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Mourning a Patriotic Son

Mourning a Patriotic Son

By Peter Rajchert

My son has died for his country without ever having set a foot onto her soil. He loved Poland in an idealized way from stories about patriots who rebelled against the emperors’ cabal. “The Prussian, the Russian, and the Austrian tore Poland apart but her soul survived,” he once told me dramatically at home as I boiled water for tea.

My son, the American, born in Buffalo, New York, dreamed of crossing the Polish frontier and defending the newly reborn country against the Communist invasion from the East.

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The Spanish flu turned out to be deadlier than Vladimir Lenin and his army. It felled him here in Ontario as he trained for war in a burnt-out field on the Niagara River, finally a soldier in Polish uniform. He lies with his fellow warriors in this tiny cemetery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a defender of freedom who mistrusted empires; now the British one is his eternal home.

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