Unveiling of the bust of Tadeusz Kościuszko at the bridge of his name
Greenpoint welcomed Hero of two nations
Saturday, November 6, 2021, went down in the history of New York and the Polish community in New York. On that day, a bust of Tadeusz Kościuszko was unveiled in Greenpoint. The monument was put up on the square next to the bridge named after the hero of two nations - Poland and the United States, connecting the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
Many representatives of the Polish community gathered at the ceremony, which was hosted by Grzegorz Fryc, the founder of GramX Promotions, a company known for organizing concerts, and the newly elected president of the Pulaski Association of Business and Professional Men. There were also children, youth, scouts, members of a motorcycle club, Polish-American organizations and local New York politicians.
The unveiling ceremony began with singing the hymns of the United States and Poland. The American anthem was sung by Tomaczek Bednarek, the husband of a well-known journalist of Polish roots, Rita Cosby, and the Polish - by Halina Kalitka. The people who regard both the United States and Poland as their homelands sang along with them.
It was a long process
- This place belongs to Kościuszko - said the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York Adrian Kubicki.
He emphasized the importance of the new monument, designed by artist-sculptor Marian Szajda.
- In the urban space of New York, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to honor specific people, heroes who fought for American independence, and in this case also for Poland. That is why we are very happy that it was possible thanks to the persistence of people and organizations, and the long process of dealing with formalities - said the consul.
After the attempts to remove Kościuszko's name from the neighboring bridge, or to simplify its name (instead of the Kościuszko Bridge it was supposed to be K Bridge, due to the difficult pronunciation of the Polish general's name), similar attempts will not be made again.
- The monument is a final touch. It commemorates the Polish-American hero in the heart of the Polish community in New York, at the bridge that connects two wonderful, one might say Polish districts. If you look at the city's development plans, in a few years it will be beautiful and one of the most important areas of this city - predicted Kubicki.
An underappreciated hero
Thanking everyone for their involvement in the construction of the monument, Consul Kubicki especially pointed to the key role of Joe Lentol, a member of the State Assembly of New York, who has already retired.
- Kosciuszko is the underestimated hero of the American Revolution and now we are starting to praise his merits, which we should have done a long time ago. Especially when controversial monuments are removed. We see that he was really a man for human rights and equality for all people. He should be worshiped for years. I'm glad we are doing it now - Lentol said.
A representative of a member of the House of Representatives read a letter from a representative at the Capitol Carolyn Maloney.
- Today we have the opportunity to commemorate General Tadeusz Kościuszko. In addition to bold, innovative infrastructure solutions bearing his name, General Kosciuszko's military engineering qualifications played a key role in the victory of the US War of Independence. His importance in the birth of our country was groundbreaking and still echoes - Maloney wrote.
More education about heroes
All the speakers emphasized the heroism of the general, his historical merits, as well as the knowledge and skills he demonstrated during the US War of Independence.
The Americans' lack of knowledge about who Tadeusz Kościuszko and Kazimierz Pułaski was was also noticed. Curtis Sliwa and Rita Cosby, in particular, put emphasis on education in their speeches.
Sliwa of Polish origin, the founder of the Guardian Angels who has been patrolling the New York City subway and streets since 1979, the former candidate for the mayor of New York emphasized that the Saturday event was a source of joy and pride for the Polish community. He considered educating representatives of city authorities about Kościuszko or Pulaski to be more important.
- We have the names of bridges, streets and metro stations that honor them. However, we do not teach children in public or parish schools about why Kościuszko and Pulaski are worshiped. Without them, we would not be able to free ourselves from the British Empire and we would still bow to the Queen to this day - argued Sliwa.
Sliwa also used this moment to thank the Polish community for their support in the recent mayoral elections.
- I took Maspeth, Ridgewood and Glendale for which I thank you very much, unfortunately I did not make it in Greenpoint, because there are too many hipsters and millennials and they do not like me - said Sliwa, arousing general cheerfulness.
The ceremony was also attended by Rita Cosby, the daughter of the Warsaw insurgent Ryszard Kossobudzki, who in 2010 published a best-selling book about her father "Quiet Hero".
She also emphasized the role of Kościuszko and Pulaski in the history of America.
- Together with Curtis, we will always support the Polish diaspora and fight for its rights - said Rita to the applause of the audience.
The head of PLL LOT, Rafał Milczarski, who took part in the ceremony, also referred to the merits of the general, the centuries-old traditions of Polish democracy, as well as the current special relations between Poland and the United States.
Polish diaspora media, including social media, emphasize that the initiators of the bust project were the owner of Victoria Consulting & Development, Darek Knapik, and Artur Dybanowski, who was the president of the Pulaski Association of Business and Professional Men until the end of the year, who also took part in the Saturday unveiling of the bust.
• The bust of general Tadeusz Kościuszko was designed by artist-sculptor Marian Szajda, and was cast in Marek Kawiński's company in Podkarpacie, in Orły near Przemyśl.
• The main initiators of the creation were Dariusz Knapik, owner of Victoria Consulting & Development and Artur Dybanowski, ending the term of office of the president of Pulaski Association of Business and Professional Men.
• Invaluable help in implementing the idea was provided by former member of the State Assembly of New York Joe Lentol, dr ing. Tadeusz Alberski, the Kościuszko Bridge construction coordinator from the state office of the Department of Transportation in Albany and the head of the Kościuszko Foundation, Marek Skulimowski.
• Currently, New York State has the oldest (located in West Point) and the youngest (in Greenpoint) Tadeusz Kościuszko monuments.
• The General's Bust is another monument in Greenpoint commemorating famous Poles. There are already monuments of: priest Józef Studziński, priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, St. John Paul II, Ignacy Paderewski and Fryderyk Chopin.