Poland seems to be a land of national heroes. There is Józef Pilsudski, the one man/living mustache, who, at least according to our tour guide, is loved by all Poles, regardless of which one of Poland’s 4 political parties they belong to. To me, Piłsudski seems to be the George Washington of Poland, as 1. He founded was the first Polish Head of State (In the modern sense) 2. His statues are EVERYWHERE and 3. He too had horrible dental hygiene. (His big mustache was to hide his missing front teeth.)
Speaking of Revolutionary war heroes, our tour guide introduced us all to one. Tadeusz Kościuszko was a Pole who came over to America, fought in the War of Independence, designed the original parts of West Point, and then returned home to bring freedom to his own people. Even though his rebellion directly led to the Partition of Poland, our tour guide insisted that Kościuszko is a national hero in both America and Poland.
I had never heard of Kościuszko before today, nor did I know of Piłsudski or any of the other Polish national heroes we learned of. At first, it seemed strange to me that our tour guide would place so much emphasis on them. Yet, it shouldn’t be; I can be just as enthusiastic about certain American heroes. Countries only survive by national pride. In a country known for its many, many losses over the course of history, national pride has to be strong.