Yep, break out the kielbasa, it’s Pulaski Day. What, who, huh, you ask? Casimir Pulaski, I reply: the great Polish leader who did a lot of noble things and is the only Pole I know of who has his own holiday in the U.S.
Still not ringing a bell? OK, I’ll try and break it down for you.
I was having a heated debate the other night with a friend over who had a richer wealth of achievements, my Polish forebears or his ... well, let’s keep this about the Poles.
Friend: So, what have you guys contributed to the greater good of humanity?
Me: Hm, well every culture has some form of stuffed dumpling. The Polish version of this is pierogis, which are unquestionably the best stuffed dumpling around. Can’t argue with that. Then there’s kielbasa, galobki and of course, vodka. The Russians completely stole the idea of vodka from us and now take all the cred. In fact, those mink hat-wearing—
Friend: OK, OK, but outside of your country’s irrefutable culinary prominence, what have the Poles done for society? I can’t even think of a famous Pole ...
Me: Sure. Let’s start with Copernicus. Great astronomer. Did a lot of big things to further the field of astronomy. He was the first person to realize the universe doesn’t actually revolve around us. Not only was he a genius, but he was humble. Copernicus—topnotch astronomer. Great guy. We also had Chopin.
Friend: OK, I’ll give you those, but what about world leaders? Lech Walesa was alright, but he wasn’t exactly JFK.
Me: That’s an easy one. Caz the Great.
Me: Casimir Pulaski. Great Polish leader. Probably the greatest of all great Polish leaders. In Chicago, where I’m from, and where our Polish population is second only to Warsaw in numbers, Pulaski Day is a big-time holiday. Kids take off of school. There’s a huge parade. Everyone drinks vodka all day and sings “Sto Lat.”
Me: Well, no, not really. At least not the part about the celebrating. But still, Pulaski—great leader.
Friend: So what did he do?
Me: [Long pause.] Think he was a general. Did some big things during a revolution a long time ago. Anyway, Pulaski—a great Pole. Can’t argue with that.