A beloved veteran of World War II whose service in the Middle East and Italy was made bearable by cigarettes and beer is on track to be memorialized in Scotland.
Too bad that country would have relegated the old campaigner to the streets due to its draconian smoking ban. Of course most pub and coffee shop proprietors, even during the free era when property rights meant something, would have looked aside from most anything he did, had he ambled into their establishments. For the veteran was a bear. Yes, really a bear, not a man.
"Soldier Bear", named Voytek by Polish soldiers who found him wandering in Iran in 1943, was quite a beast. Adopted as a mascot, he soon became much more, carrying heavy mortar charges for the Second Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps, seeing action at the Battle of Monte Cassino. Although a bear Voytek was also one of the guys: "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer – he drank a bottle of beer like any man."
After the war Voytek ended his days in a Scotland zoo. One of the Polish veterans tracked down old Voytek, who celebrated the reunion with a smoke, a treat he always loved. Quite a bear, and certainly warmer, more civilized, and far more valuable than anyone among the army of tobacco control fascists. Their philosophy is that of the enemies against whom Voytek fought. It’s time we learned to fight like bears.