Polish American Heritage Month

Don Wyeth

Polish American Heritage Month

3 mins
October 5, 2020

October is a month of many festivals. That includes Polish American Heritage Month “… [which] is an annual event celebrated in October by Polish American communities. It was first celebrated in 1981 after organization by Michael Blichasz, President of the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia." wikipedia.com. There has been an historical Polish presence in the United States ever since its inception. 

One of the first noted Polish immigrants was Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Born in Poland in 1746; he went to school in Lubieszow, Poland, attended the Cadet Academy in Warsaw, and then took a degree in engineering in Paris. In 1776 he journeyed to America to offer his engineering services to General George Washington. “He was appointed engineer of the Continental Army with the rank of Colonel. He distinguished himself throughout the American Revolutionary War.” polishamericancenter.com. He employed his engineering skills in building fortifications at Saratoga New York, West Point, and along the Delaware river, which proved crucial to the winning of the Revolutionary war. his name appears on many American buildings, bridges, schools, as well as national landmarks.

Another noted Polish immigrant, Count Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland in 1745. He came to America in 1777 and was engaged by General George Washington to take the position of Brigadier General in the Continental Army where, using his own money, he organized the first cavalry units. His efforts earned him the moniker Father of the American Cavalry. “General Pulaski, distinguished himself in several key battles during the American Revolutionary War.” He was killed heroically in the battle of Savannah in October of 1779. 

Between 1870 and 1920 “… Millions of Poles immigrated to the United States seeking better economic opportunities.” They established neighborhoods, constructed churches and schools and established cultural organizations everywhere they settled. Great pains were taken to preserve a sense of Polish heritage. One place in which Polish people settled was Lublin, Wisconsin. Lublin is named for its sister city located in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland. Located in Taylor County, Wisconsin, the 2010 census reflected a population of 118. A major hub for family and community values is Holy Assumption Orthodox Church. This sense of family and community values expressed by our Polish neighbors continues to serve as a shining example for us all.

This article was orginally reported by
Don Wyeth

Passionate and intelligent columnist from Madison, WI.