There are times when a hero of a community is not from that particular community nor has ties there except through pride and admiration of their life’s work. This is the case behind the Kosciuszko Park monument of Thaddeus Kosciuszko in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a man of inspiration and pride in the Polish community but was not from Wisconsin nor lived there.
In 1746 Poland, Tadeusz Andrezei Bonawentura Kosciuszko was born into a landed gentry’s family. This meant the young Thaddeus Kosciuszko was never in want and able to have all he wanted in food, shelter, and opportunity. Though not royalty, he would have had a life that mirrored theirs but not on quite a grand scale.
1776 brought about changes that would rock all of Europe. The American Revolution was not an incident just between the American colonies and England. This was a cause that many in Europe adopted and jumped in to become a part of. Numerous French, Germans, Polish, and others joined the fight for American independence. They were the children of the Enlightenment that would get their first lessons across the ocean in the colonies that proclaimed themselves the United States of America. These lessons were then transported back to the Old World where they germinated in various directions and resulted in many revolutions including that of the French Revolution.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko was part of this movement. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean to join the Continental Army as a colonel of engineers and played a major part in many of the Revolutionary battles. In 1784, Kosciuszko returned to Poland high on the American victory. He became highly involved in the Polish revolt against the Russians but was defeated in one battle and taken prisoner for two years. This did not discourage any of the enthusiasm the young man had. The need to improve the plight of all people oppressed was high on his list of priorities.
He returned to American in 1797 where he continued his fight for many including Jews and Native Americans. He longed for all oppressed to be free of the shackles that others placed on them. He fought on both sides of the Atlantic for rights and joined various revolutions where he poured his heart and soul out for his fellow Polish people and anyone else who he felt needed a little revolution.
The monument of Thaddeus Kosciuszko was erected in Milwaukee in 1903 where a large Polish population existed. They saw in Kosciuszko a hero who looked out for those who could not do it alone and gave them the hope that they could have a life of freedom here in American and back home in Poland.