And you all scoffed at the #Morrissey4Vatican campaign. Earlier this week, I offered a proposal for the city of Alexandria, Virginia, which wants to rename its portion of the Jefferson Davis Highway. Two days after my proposal to rename it for Revolutionary War hero and Polish patriot Tadeusz Kościuszko, the official Twitter account for Poland’s embassy in the US sent out its endorsement:

At the time I wrote the proposal, I had not known that Poland had declared 2017 the “Year of Kosciuszko,” on the 200th anniversary of his death. This website focuses mainly on the celebrations in Australia, but has some resources available on Kosciuszko’s extraordinary life, offering a few bullet points in summary:

In the United States 

  • He tried to buy Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and free them.
  • He designed the blueprints for West Point, which Benedict Arnold sold to the British.
  • He planned the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the American Revolution.
  • He stood up for the rights of Native Americans, and the chief of the Miami Indian tribe gave him a tomahawk/peace pipe as a sign of appreciation.

In Poland…

  • He led a Revolution to free the peasants from serfdom and end feudalism.
  • He was joined by a black man named Jean Lapierre who tried to help him to free white slaves.
  • The Jews started a Jewish “Bearded cavalry” to fight along side of him.
  • The Jewish cavalry leader called him “a messenger from God.”

The Polish embassy website offers this brief video primer on Kosciuszko (using his Latinized first name Thaddeus). The video laments that he has faded from American memory “because his name is hard to pronounce,” a comment which came up after my post earlier this week. The video includes a very helpful explainer on how to pronounce his last name. It’s kosh-CHOOSH-ko:

Be sure to follow the links to find out more. And if you’re interested in seeing Alexandria honor the man Thomas Jefferson called “as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known,” submit his name and any words you have in favor of that proposal on the official Alexandria suggestion form. It would be a fitting tribute on the bicentennial of the passing of this great American and Polish hero.

Many thanks to our friends at the embassy of Poland for this shout-out, too.