Friday, March 11, 2005

Renaming mountains 

OK, this story isn't all that important next to all the momentous developments in the Middle East and all other consequential political news that we, serious bloggers (just joking) blog about, but with my Polish bias, I couldn't help myself:
"Mount Kosciuszko, [Australia]'s highest mountain, could be given an alternative Aboriginal name. The proposal is part of a [New South Wales state government] scheme to give dual names to all landmarks of Aboriginal cultural significance...

"Poland's ambassador in Australia, Jerzy Weiclaw said yesterday Polish newspapers had been inundated with letters from concerned Poles over reports that Australia was about to change the name of its highest mountain at 2228 metres...

"However the state Government moved to reassure people, saying Kosciuszko will 'remain the predominant' name for the 2228 metre mountain, the national park and the range."
By one of those strange historical quirks, the name Kosciuszko is today familiar to three nations: Poles, Australians and Americans. For the Poles, he is a national hero, a leader of an (unsuccessful as they usually were) anti-Russian uprising in the late 18th century; for Australians he's an almost unpronounceable name of the highest mountain (named so by a Polish explorer Strzelecki - another unpronounceable who left his name on several Australian geographic features), although few would know who Kosciuszko was; and finally in America he's known as one of the heroes of the War of Independence. I guess you can call him one of the first of the Willing (in those crazy old times when the French were, but the Brits weren't), an expert at fortifications who fought alongside another Polish general Pulaski (died at Savannah and has several towns, I believe, named after them). So as you can see, the Polish-American friendship has a long history, way beyond the current war on terror (Poles were also in charge of artillery at Alamo, fought in the Civil War, and as American citizens in American army were well represented in every other conflict since then).


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