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It’s a Casimir kind of world

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In the hope that some former Illinois residents may take comfort in these words, happy Casimir Pulaski Day!

Yes, there is a day set aside each year to commemorate the achievements of Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski. In a broader sense, it’s also a time to pay tribute to members of America’s wonderful Polish community and recognize the extraordinary contributions they make to our society.

Unfortunately, Illinois remains the only state in the country to celebrate Pulaski Day. Of course, the Chicago area has the largest concentration of Polish people outside Warsaw, Poland, which would explain the push by elected officials in Chicago in the mid-1970s to make Pulaski Day a holiday in Illinois.

But I’m hopeful that other states will follow suit very soon. Come on! Who wouldn’t enjoy another day off work or school?

Given that Pulaski Day (today) is being followed by Mardi Gras (tomorrow), the paczkis must be flying off the shelves in Chicago-area bakeries. Paczkis are a true favorite on Fat Tuesday, which is also known as Paczki Day.

Now, let’s talk colloquialisms. More than a few of you have most likely pronounced the word “Pulaski” in your head as “Pulask-eye,” with a hard “i” at the end. This is no doubt due to the presence of Pulaski, New York, located in Oswego County.

No one I’ve spoken with about this seems to know why the name of this community is pronounced “Pulask-eye” rather than the more traditional “Pulask-ee,” just like every other Polish name ending in an “ski.” Sure, different regions of the country have unique pronunciations. One of the southern-most communities in Illinois is Cairo. You may work that our in your head as “Ky-row,” like the one in Egypt. But the locals pronounce it “Kay-row,” with a hard “A” in there.

Regardless of how your pronounce the names of your communities, happy Casimir Pulaski Day to everyone!

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