Pulaski Day: Polish patriot Casimir Pulaski remembered in Chicago

March 3, 2014 3:29:46 PM PST
Members of Chicago's Polish community spoke out on the crisis in Ukraine during a wreath laying ceremony for Polish patriot Casimir Pulaski.

As they honor the memory of patriot Casimir Pulaski, Chicago's polish community remains concerned about the unrest in Ukraine.

The state of Illinois has a sizable Polish population and on Monday, dignitaries and members of the community attended the 28th annual ceremony at the Polish Museum of America where Pulaski was remembered for his contributions to the US military during the American Revolution.

''Casimir Pulaski fought for independence for our country for our people to have freedom and that's what the Ukraines are hoping for,'' said Gayle Gibbons, a Polish American.

But after recent deadly violence in Ukraine, many Chicago residents with ties to ex-communist Poland are keeping a close watch after clashes between pro-Europe opposition and Russian-backed government security forces resulted in several deaths.

''They have been sent in by a government that does not respect international law to influence events in a free neighboring country, western Europe is divided in its reaction,'' said Jan Lorys, a historian at The Polish Museum of America.

Along with a prayer for peace, some Polish Americans have joined Chicago's Ukrainian community in urging the US government to step up its opposition to the recent actions in the Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

''Poland will not tolerate Russian actions in Ukraine,'' said Robert Rusieck, deputy counsel for the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.

And as Polish officials call for an end to the violence, Senator Dick Durbin - who met with the city's Ukrainian community over the weekend, says he can't promise a US military intervention, but supports diplomacy and an economic response to the crisis.

''At this point, I don't see any sentiment in this country for sending our forces anywhere in the world, so I'm not calling for that. I want to make that crystal clear, but there's a lot more we can do short of that,'' Senator Durbin said.

Still, many people still just hope for peace.

''Bloodshed is always...it's a tough situation,'' said Norm Schroeder.

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