Quinn: Polish president was 'defender of freedom'

April 13, 2010 1:38:56 PM PDT
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is offering his condolences on the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. Quinn says in a statement that Kaczynski was a courageous and dedicated champion of his nation and a defender of freedom.

"The people of Poland are freedom living. And to lose their president is a very, very sad day indeed. And I think all the people of our state extend their sympathy and their condolences to the people of Poland at the loss of their president. And God rest his immortal soul," Quinn said.

The Polish president, his wife and some of his nation's highest military and civilian leaders died Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia. Polish officials say all 97 people onboard were killed.

Chicago has the largest Polish and Polish-American population in the U.S.

Quinn's office says Kaczynski had been expected to visit Chicago late this month to help commemorate Polish Constitution Day.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)