Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Unexpected Hero

I love research. No, really. I love it. And last night I got to spend a few hours in the library pouring through books. Kind of old books. That no one has looked at for a lot of years.

Casimir Pulaski. There aren't a lot of books or even articles written about this Polish nobleman. And even though kids in Illinois get a day off school in his honor, probably the only thing they really remember about him is that he bled to death after being shot in the genitals during the American Revolution.

Long before he met Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, he was a war hero in Poland. He started his military career when he was only 18 because one day his father got sick of the Russians and decided he and his three sons would create an army. They had no idea what they were doing. The were rich land owners who didn't know the first thing about military life, and they were far outnumbered by their enemies. In fact, they lost their land, their country, and their family. One brother died in battle, another died in exile and the father died in a Turkish prison. Pulaski ended up in a French prison with no hope for his future. The Russians had falsely convicted him a regicide and confiscated all his land and holdings. If he ever tried to go back to Poland, he would be exactitude.

But Pulaski wasn't done fighting. If his homeland couldn't be free, at least he could fight to give other men the freedom he was denied. So he volunteered to fight for America. He would teach them how to use horses on the battlefield. He would inspire men to do great things. He would also be a reckless young man who didn't believe he had anything left to live for.

Research is like a treasure hunt. You start with a few clues, and before you know it, you're digging around, discovering riches beyond your wildest dreams. None of the things I just wrote about will be in the article I'm working on, but they are all a part of what made Pulaski who he was. Because of his background, he went on to revolutionize how the Americans engaged in battle. Because of his ideas and the training program he created, America gained her independence.

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