Today is Casimir Pulaski day.
Casimir Pulaski Day is not a public holiday and the day is unique to Illinois in the United States. Businesses have normal opening hours but some governmental offices and schools will be closed in observance of the day.
The city of Chicago celebrated its first official Pulaski Day in 1986. On February 26, 1986, Chicago Mayor Harold Washington introduced a resolution to designate the first Monday in March General Casimir Pulaski Day, and the City Council approved. The Chicago Public Library closes in observance of Pulaski Day but Chicago Public Schools remain open. Pulaski Day stopped being a holiday for Chicago Public Schools in 2012 as a way to increase the number of days in the school year.
Ridgeland School District 122, Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123, and Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 are closed in observance of the day. Cook County government offices, including the courts are also closed.
Illinois enacted a law on September 13, 1977, to celebrate the birthday of Casimir Pulaski and held the first official Pulaski Day celebrations in 1978. The bill was introduced by State Senator Norbert A. Kosinski, a Democrat from Chicago, and signed by Thomas Hynes, President of the Senate, on June 26, 1977. However, state offices are open.
With the holiday upon us, many people may be unaware of why some celebrate the day as a holiday and others work.
Pulaski was born on March 4, 1745, in Warsaw and became interested in politics at an early age and soon became involved in the military and the revolutionary affairs in Poland (the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth). Pulaski was one of the leading military commanders for the Bar Confederation and fought against Russian domination of the Commonwealth. When this uprising failed, he was driven into exile.
After traveling to France and meeting Benjamin Franklin, Pulaski immigrated to North America to help in the cause of the American Revolutionary War. He distinguished himself throughout the revolution, most notably when he saved the life of George Washington. Pulaski became a general in the Continental Army, created the Pulaski Cavalry Legion and reformed the American cavalry as a whole. At the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces, he was gravely wounded, and died shortly thereafter.
Pulaski is remembered as a hero who fought for independence and freedom in both Poland and the United States. Numerous places, including Pulaski Avenue, and events are named in his honor, and he is commemorated by many works of art. Pulaski is one of only eight people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship. He never married and had no descendants.