Durbin: Congress Approves Resolution Granting Honorary Citizenship to Casmir Pulaski

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Senate unanimously approved a resolution proclaiming Casimir Pulaski an honorary citizen of the United States. The legislation passed the House of Representative earlier this month and will now go to President Obama for his signature. Durbin joined with Representative Dan Lipinski in sponsoring similar legislation that passed the Senate by unanimous consent in both the 110th and 111th Congresses.


“Casimir Pulaski made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of American freedom,” Durbin said. “When we think of our nation’s struggle for freedom in its infancy, we must remember General Casimir Pulaski and his indelible contribution to our nation’s birth.”


Pulaski, a Polish military officer who fought on the side of America during the Revolutionary War, died during a battle in Savannah, Georgia, in October of 1779. After coming to America, Pulaski wrote to George Washington, “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.”


Benjamin Franklin encountered Pulaski while in Paris and recommended that Washington accept Pulaski as a volunteer in the American Calvary. Washington elevated Pulaski to Brigadier General of the American Cavalry on September 15, 1777—just four days after Pulaski saved Washington’s life and averted defeat at the Battle of Brandywine. In 1779, he fought the British in Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. It was as a result of his actions in Savannah that he died.


Pulaski has been honored throughout our nation’s history. In September, 1929, Congress designated October 11 as Pulaski Day to be observed by Presidential Proclamation; it also authorized the Post Office to issue a Pulaski commemorative stamp. In 1973, Illinois designated the first Monday of March as Pulaski Commemorative day in Illinois and in 1986 declared the day to be a state holiday.


Only six people have ever been declared honorary citizens of the United States. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was the first in 1963 and Marquis de la Fayette, a Frenchman who supported the American Revolution, was the last in 2002. The others were Swedish diplomat and Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg in 1981, Pennsylvania co-founder and governor William Callowhill Penn and his wife Hannah—a Pennsylvania administrator—in 1984, and Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu—better known as Mother Teresa—in 1996.