Polish culture group will commemorate constitution

Organizers want it to be an annual event.

Published May 1, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - A Williams Park program at 10 a.m. Sunday will celebrate liberty and democracy in two nations, Poland and the United States.

Several ethnic groups are expected to commemorate Poland's constitution at the statue of Thaddeus Kosciuszko in the park's northeast corner.

The American Institute of Polish Culture is putting on the event, which is open to the public.

The idea is to make the celebration an annual event, said Wallace West, the organization's president.

In 1791, Poland adopted its constitution, widely recognized as Europe's first. It was modeled after the United States' document of 1787.

Kosciuszko's statue was chosen as the site because of the role the Polish general played in America's Revolutionary War. The city installed the 1, 200-pound bronze likeness in 2002 after West spearheaded a campaign. Donors paid for the statue.

The general is considered a Revolutionary War hero. An engineer, he helped defend ground at Saratoga, N.Y., and at a site that later became the United States Military Academy.

He advocated freeing African-Americans from slavery and for providing for their education afterward. Thomas Jefferson called Kosciuszko "as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known."

Thursday is the date Polish Constitution Day usually is celebrated. Sunday was chosen for this ceremony because it is hoped the date will offer more convenience, West said.