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13 maja 2008
Ryszard Sarkowicz on T. Kosciuszko
The speech delivered during the Mound & Mt Kosciuszko Festival

Consul General Prof. Ryszard Sarkowicz took part in the Mound & Mt Kosciuszko Festival in 2007 and 2008. Hereby we publish his speech delivered in the presence of Mr Roger Norton, Mayor of Cooma, on Sunday 20th April 2008.

Ladies and Gentleman. Last year in my speech here I asked a simple question: who was Tadeusz Kosciuszko? And I answered: He was an famous soldier. He was a hero. He was a brilliant architect of many fortifications. He was a talented painter. He was quite a good composer. We already know all this.

However, first and most important thing is that he was a man who fought for freedom and equal rights of people all his life. Thomas Jefferson wrote that Kosciuszko was a pure son of liberty. That phrase of Jefferson’s is very often quoted, however, the next part of his remark, which I find extremely important, is usually omitted. Actually Jefferson said: Kosciuszko was a pure son of liberty, and of that liberty which is to go to all, and not to the few and the rich alone. These last words are the key to understanding the liberty as Thaddeus Kosciuszko saw it. Freedom is not real freedom if only some enjoy it. Yes, freedom had to be won on a battlefield, but if freedom did not lead to political, social and economic opportunity for all citizens, freedom’s meaning could not be truly realized.

Human equality and human rights are a necessary preconditions of liberty in a democratic state. The core of Kosciuszko's political philosophy was his belief in the equality of all men, including serfs and slaves. Such views in the XVIII century were extremely revolutionary and Tadeusz Kosciuszko can rightly be named pioneer in the field of human rights. He also stood up for his beliefs. That is why, in his last will, he gave all he had to Jefferson, urging him to use it, to purchase the freedom and education of slaves.

Kosciuszko was a Pole, and we, Poles, are proud of that. However, this man was, in fact, a citizen of the world, the man to whom we should all be grateful for his modern concept of social justice – the concept, which, after all the years that passed since his death, lost nothing of its appeal and significance.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are only a few kilometers away from the highest mountain peak in Australia which bears the name of Kosciuszko - the name dear to all those who cherish values of liberty, human equality and social justice. I can hardly imagine a better place for a Festival honoring Kosciuszko.

Ryszard Sarkowicz
Consul General of the Polish Republic
in Sydney

Kościuszko: "the name dear to all who cherish the values of liberty"

The Mayor of Cooma, Mr Roger Norton, with Kosciuszko's portrait in the background

Mr R. Sarkowicz (right) with Mr John Vucić, General Manager of the Cooma Monaro Council