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Pole killed fighting in Ukraine buried as hero of 2 nations



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WARSAW, Poland — A Polish man who died fighting in Ukraine was buried in his homeland on Tuesday as mourners hailed him as a hero of two nations.

The body of Daniel Sztyber, 35, of Warsaw, lies in a coffin covered with the red and white Polish flag. Young Ukrainians wearing their nation’s flag and aging World War II veterans joined Sztyber’s parents, sister and childhood friends in mourning.

At the grave in Warsaw’s Powązki Cemetery, the resting place of illustrious Poles, Sztyber is hailed as a freedom fighter in a long tradition of Polish sacrifice.

It is illegal for Poles to fight in foreign armies, but some have volunteered to help defend Ukraine during the Russian invasion. The Poles, like other foreigners who have decided to join a war that is not technically theirs, feel they are fighting to defend the free world against the threat of communism. The Russian Empire is on the rise.

It is unclear how many Poles or volunteers from other countries died serving in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion, with both Ukraine and Russia retaining the number of those who fell.

The Polish boxer’s father, Mirosław Sztyber, said by his son’s grave that he didn’t mean to speak but couldn’t hold back. He said that Daniel died while trying to save a teammate and suffered excruciating pain for the last three hours of his life.

Speaking to the Associated Press earlier, the father recalled the last text he sent to his son.

“I wrote to him to be brave, that he was fighting the army of darkness and taking the side of good. And he wrote to me: Thank you, Dad.

“I respect what he did and have respected it from the beginning. He made his choice fully aware that he was taking a risk, but he wanted a free country, the protection of Poland, Europe and the world,” said Mirosław Sztyber.

Follow the AP report on the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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