Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama Throws Poland Under the Bus or Salute to General Kosciuszko

I have another little story to tell and don't ask me why I'm so full of them lately. But Proof had this post acknowledging Obama's tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland and it reminded me of my weekend.

I made a little trip to Philadelphia for a bit of history hunting. I sipped a whiskey at the 1760's Bedford, PA tavern that was the site of the 1794 whiskey rebellion. I sat under the same tree where Lafayette was placed, bleeding from his boot, after the Battle of Brandywine Creek and visited Gideon Gilpin's house which served as the quarters for the Marquis de LaFayette prior to the Battle. This was the young French volunteer's first military action under General Washington. The tree is as fat as five people with arms stretched end to end (we measured) and they have a metal cable that runs up the tree to protect it from lightening. We visited this site September 12, 2009 and the actual battle took place September 11th. Yep, one of the biggest defeats in the American Revolution which pushed the continental army all the way back to Chester and gave Britain control of Philadelphia took place on a different September 11. Year 1777.

But what struck me about this little hike through history was the preserved home of Revolutionary War hero of both America and Poland, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko. We didn't get to tour the home, but it seems there were many Europeans at the time who understood the great experiment that was taking place in America, where for the first time in human history, men were not ruled by czars or princes or kings, queens, elites, tyrants or despots, but were writing their own constitution; declaring themselves freemen with God-given rights.

General Tadeusz was born in Poland on February 4, 1746 and attended the Cadet Academy in Warsaw before continuing his engineering studies. He arrived in America from Poland in 1776, as a skilled engineer who came to offer his services to the American colonies in their struggle for independence. Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia in 1776, Kosciuszko read the Declaration of Independence and was moved to tears because he discovered in this single, concise document everything in which he truly believed. Too bad our constitutional-lawyer-president didn't have the same reaction.

In the early days of the war, Kosciuszko helped to fortify the Philadelphia waterfront, but was transferred to New York, where he helped with fortifications along the Hudson and planned the defense for Saratoga. The Battle of Saratoga became known as one of military history's most famous struggles for independence and proved to be a turning point in the war.

In 1778, Kosciuszko was made chief engineer of West Point, New York. This fortification became known as the American Gibraltar because it was unable to be penetrated by the British Army. Eventually West Point became a military academy, as suggested by Kosciuszko to General George Washington. In 1783, Kosciuszko was appointed Brigadier General and was awarded the Cincinnati Order Medal. Washington presented Kosciuszko with two pistols and a sword as gifts for his outstanding service to America.

After the colonies won their independence, Kosciuszko returned to Poland in 1784, to help his own country win independence from the surrounding European powers. Who says history doesn't repeat itself. Kosciuszko was wounded in the failed revolt and taken prisoner by the Russians. Upon his release from prison, he returned to America on August 18, 1797, which he considered his "second home." He received a hero's welcome.

"He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known." ~Thomas Jefferson

Kosciuszko is buried in Wawel Castle, in Krakow, Poland, among the tombs of the
Polish Kings.

Thanks, Poland, for giving us General Kosciuszko.

1 comment:

Mike aka Proof said...

Lady Cincinnatus: History buffs everywhere salute you!