Press Release, March 6, 2007; The National Polish Center, Washington, DC


[pix here] [blank ] For the first time ever, a birthday celebration was held on Capitol Hill for Casimir Pulaski, who was a brigadier general in George Washington's Continental Army and the "Father of the American Cavalry."

Hosted by the National Polish Center (also known as the American Center of Polish Culture of Washington, D.C.), a breakfast was held at the Rayburn House Office Building. Among those who attended were sponsors of the congressional resolutions to make Pulaski an honorary U.S. citizen and representatives of the Polish-American community. (The resolution was approved on March 20, 2007.)

According to Jack Pinkowski, vice chairman of the National Polish Center, "this first birthday celebration at the Capitol is important because it identifies Pulaski's correct birth date as March 6, 1745. It also gives us an opportunity to recognize the ten years of work, both in the United States and Poland, completed by Dr. James Metts, Jr. and his team to correctly identify Pulaski's remains."

Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a Polish-American and the senior Congresswoman, presented the first of what is to become an annual series of awards for contributions to our understanding of Pulaski's life and achievements, along with a $1,000 check, to Dr. Metts. Metts, the coroner of Chatham County, Georgia, was able to refute a long-held assumption that Pulaski had been buried at sea. Beginning in 1996, Dr. Metts led a team of experts and conducted exhaustive studies on Pulaski's remains, which had been buried since 1853 in a crypt under the Pulaski Monument in Savannah, Georgia.

According to Dr. Metts' final report, "the collected evidence is consistent in remarkable detail with the physical appearance, life history, and cavalry lifestyle of Casimir Pulaski." What is lacking, the report says, is a conclusive mitochondrial DNA match taken from Pulaski's remains and from the female descendants of Pulaski's sisters. Material has been collected, however, and it has been stored to await further advances in forensic technology.

Pulaski's remains were re-interred in October 2005 in front of his monument in Savannah's Monterey Square.

Other Members of Congress who participated in the birthday commemoration were Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, presidential candidate, and the legislator who introduced H.J. Res. 39 proclaiming Pulaski an honorary U.S. citizen posthumously; and Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, whose district includes Savannah, where Pulaski is buried, and who participated in the wreath-laying at the statue of Pulaski in the Capitol following the breakfast.

Also in attendance were Edward Pinkowski an internationally known authority on Pulaski who was the chief sponsor of the project to identify Pulaski's remains; Deborah Majka, president of the American Council for Polish Culture; Peter Obst, an author and translator who has helped assemble a Modjeski exhibition now touring Poland; and Teresa Wojcik, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation.

The featured speaker at the birthday breakfast was Dr. Thaddeus Radzilowski, president of the Piast Institute headquartered in Hamtramck, Michigan.

Radzilowski said that Pulaski's "élan, his courage, his skill and his dedication to the American cause, including the commitment of his personal fortune and finally his heroic death of battlefield wounds" earned Pulaski the honor of being "one of the most revered heroes of the revolution for generations of Americans ...

"Pulaski's story," Radzilowski said, "has become a part of our national epic."

As part of the birthday commemoration in Washington, a wreath was laid at the life-size marble bust of Pulaski located in the Capitol Building. The bust was carved by Henry Dmochowski (1810-1863) from Carrara marble and moved to Capitol Hill in 1882. (See photograph on upper right by: Stirling Elmendorf, 2007.)

Click on "thumbnails" to see full size pictures
from the Washington, DC, Pulaski Birthday Celebration (March 6, 2007).

Photographs by: Stirling Elmendorf (2007).

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1. Jack Pinkowski, Edward Pinkowski, E. Rudzinski, ..., Ben Stefanski
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2. Jack Pinkowski, Rep. Jack Kingston, Edward Pinkowski, Dr. James Metts
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3. V. Skrzyniarz, Thaddeus Radzilowski, Monika Krol, Ben Stefanski
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4. Monika Krol, Jack Pinkowski, Rep. Marcie Kaptur, Dr. James Metts, Edward Pinkowski, Rep. Jack Kingston

Photographs by: Peter J. Obst (2007).

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5. Edward Pinkowski, Teresa Wojcik, Debbie Majka
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6. Rep. Marcie Kaptur, Debbie Majka
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7. Edward Pinkowski, Debbie Majka, Julian Kulski
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8. Teresa Wojcik with Pulaski.