LETTER: He lived with Russian tyranny, so he flies Ukraine flag

The flag of Ukraine flies beside the American flag at the Rebels Converting plant at 655 Dekora Woods Blvd., Saukville.


To Ozaukee Press:

We fly the Ukrainian flag at our Rebels Converting plants in both Saukville and Milwaukee in support of Ukraine and in memory of Slawomir Grotomirski.

In 1979, I had the opportunity to attend Jagiellonian University for a semester in Kracow, Poland, and meet a lifelong friend, Slawomir (Slawek) Grotomirski.  As a 23-year-old, I experienced life under Soviet occupation and met many from Samizdat (the precursor to Solidarity led by Lech Walesa). These young people risked their lives fighting Communism.  With Russian soldiers guarding mimeograph machines at the university, Samizdat distributed thousands of weekly newsletters that were typed by volunteers using carbon paper (by typing hard, you could make four copies). Those newsletters circulated throughout the city, counteracting the propaganda being spread by the Soviets.  

While you won’t read about Slawek in the history books, he along with  author Jozef Tischner, Karol Jozef Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) and others from the Academy of Theology were instrumental in creating the environment in which the Solidarity movement could grow and later oust communism in Eastern Europe.

In June 1979, when Pope John Paul came back to Kracow, officials warned  everyone not to attend. But Poles from 9 to 90 defiantly filled the streets to hear the pope send a powerful message of social justice that helped the Polish people unify against the Soviet occupation.

Ukraine doesn’t have a Pope, but Volodymyr Zelenskyy (who was an actor and comedian) has unified the country and democracies all over the world. Putin won’t find this a laughing matter.

It was Leonid Brezhnev in 1979 and now it is Vladimir Putin, but one thing hasn’t changed: Russian communist aggression didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

Ukraine needs our support. Democracy needs our support. I am proud to see how Poland has stepped up. It’s time now for all of us Americans to do the same. If you are donating to Ukraine, please check with Charity Navigator; unfortunately, there are always some that try to benefit from the misery of others.

Michael Kryshak



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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