Celebrated Polish revolutionary war figure Casimir Pulaski made a lot of grammar school kids in Illinois happy when the state declared the first Monday of March a public holiday circa 1977. Enacted to honor the birth of the fallen war hero, as well as celebrate the huge concentration of Polish populations in Chicago, the day has become somewhat of a punchline in current times, as the average Illinois child doesn’t have a clue as to who the man was and why schools are closed – for some reason, CPS classes are in session today, however – let alone that there were plenty of more famous Polish figures from the era worth honoring, but their names were too Polish. Nevertheless, the dude’s name lives on, especially in one of Sufjan Stevens‘ most endearing tracks on his ode to Illinois, about a pair of star-crossed lovers revolving around the namesake Pulaski holiday, the imagery’s fragility tightly honed around Stevens’ whisper-croon. Dig on the original 2005 Illinois cut, and the demo Stevens just unearthed today in repeated homage to General Pulaski:

In the morning in the winter shade
On the first of March on the holiday
I thought I saw you breathing