Friday, January 21, 2011

‘Lauding a Peasant Prince’


Bro. Erik at the podium.
Kosciuszko Lodge No. 1085 met Wednesday night for the visit of the DDGM and to hear Bro. Erik speak on the life and times of Tadeusz Kosciuszko. A genuinely fascinating man! And not a Freemason either.

Kosciuszko is a familiar name to us in the New York area, thanks largely to the bridge named for him that connects Brooklyn and Queens, which is invoked every rush hour in traffic reports. The truth is there are many monuments to this man; America and the world are indebted to him. Hugely.

I didn’t take notes, but what I learned includes:

  • Kosciuszko gave his soldier’s salary from the American Revolution to Thomas Jefferson for the purpose of buying slaves – to free them.
  • Kosciuszko built West Point. He also devised the plan that led to victory at the Battle of Saratoga.
  • In Poland, he tried to free the serfs and obtain civil rights for peasants and Jews, going as far as establishing an all Jewish cavalry to fight the Russian army – the first Jewish fighting force since biblical days.
  • His name is quite the shibboleth. It actually is not pronounced the New York way (Kos-Key-YOOS-Ko), but is pronounced correctly in a manner I cannot frame.

He is a giant in human history, and it was a real pleasure to hear him memorialized in this unique lodge.

Bro. Erik’s primary source material is the biography The Peasant Prince by Alex Storozynski, a text evidently held in great esteem by a number of the lodge brethren. As if I need something more in my To Read list, I’ll get to this one some day.

Worshipful Master Derrick presents the DDGM a bronze likeness
of Kosciuszko Lodge's namesake.

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