Friday, January 22, 2010

Detroit statue honors Polish war hero

My hopes of catching the Tigers’ Winter Caravan at the DTE building this afternoon proved futile (not even my Kage credentials could crack the security at the employee-only gathering), but the short walk wasn’t a complete loss.

Across the street from DTE and the MGM Grand Casino, standing on a cement island between Bagley Street, Michigan Avenue and Third Street, a statue of a guy on a horse caught my eye. It's quite possible you've never heard of Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko. It's more likely you can’t even pronounce Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko. (By the way, it’s KOS-CHOOS’-KO.)

Turns out, Kosciuszko is a national hero in Poland, and was highly honored in this country for his military genius during the American Revolution. There are countless things around the world named after him, including cities in Texas and Mississippi, streets in Brooklyn and Bay City, even a mountaintop in Australia. In fact, every major town in Poland has a street or square named after him.

Cities across the U.S. – including Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Milwaukee and many others - feature monuments of Kosciuszko similar to this one in Detroit, which was a gift from the people of Krakow, Poland. The Detroit monument is somewhat special, though, because it’s a replica of the monument that stood at the entrance to Wawel Castle in Krakow, where Kosciuszko was laid to rest. So we've got that going for us...