Pulaski Day Parade proceeds through NYC

The annual Pulaski Day Parade, organised to commemorate the hero of Poland and the US, General Kazimierz Pułaski marched through New York’s streets for the 82nd time.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Prime Minister, Statesman, Composer and Musician on the 100th Anniversary of Polish-American Diplomatic Relations.”

The event, taking place, as usual, on Fifth Avenue on Manhattan Island, was opened with the Polonaise dance by the Polish American Folk Dance Company.

Several Polish and US officials took part in the inauguration of the parade, including the US senator Charles Schumer, the US Representative Carolyn Maloney, Poland’s state secretary Piotr Naimski and the Polish Ambassador in the US Piotr Wilczek.

Mr Schumer highlighted recent news regarding the qualification of Poland to the Visa Waiver Program, which will abolish 90-day tourist and business visas for Poles.

“The more Poles in the US, the better our state becomes,” he said, adding that he is “glad that Polish citizens will not be treated as second category foreigners”.

Among the crowd were also representatives of Polish minority institutions, military veterans, artistic groups, clergymen, youth, scout teams, athletes, police officers, firefighters and the cadets of the elite military academy West Point.

Hero of two states

Being one of the oldest ethnic parades in NYC, the annual event commemorates the anniversary of the death of General Kazimierz Pułaski, who died during the Battle of Savannah in October 1779.

General Pułaski was a hero of both Poland and the US, he fought in the American Revolutionary War. He and his friend, Michael Kovats de Fabriczy from Hungary, were called “fathers of the American cavalry.”

In 2009, General Pulaski posthumously received the title of Honorary Citizen of the US, an honour which has been given to only eight people in history.

The Polish hero is commemorated in the US in many ways. Apart from Casimir Pulaski Day, celebrated mainly in Illinois and the federal General Pulaski Memorial Day, there are counties, cities, towns, buildings, parks and other objects, as well as a nuclear submarine named after him.