Country, president, mark 89th anniversary of founding of Czechoslovakia
This Sunday marked the 89th anniversary of the founding of independent Czechoslovakia, a holiday on which the Czech president addresses the nation and honours individuals for outstanding service for their country.
Afterwards, a total of 24 Czech men and women were honoured, among them Rudolf Hrubec (in memoriam) who trained Czechoslovak paratroopers in England in World War II. He played a key role in the mission to assassinate the Nazi butcher of Bohemia Reinhard Heydrich. Hrubec himself died in battle in Italy in 1944. He was awarded the country's highest honour, the Order of the White Lion.
Others, given the Order of T.G. Masaryk, included Czechs in exile who fought against communism abroad. Medals for Heroism were then given to two Czech military police officers from the rapid-response unit who saved the life of the Czech charge d'affaires in Afghanistan earlier this year when their vehicle was targeted by grenades and machine gun fire.
Seventeen people were given Orders of Merit, among them famous Czech jazzman Jiri Stivin, violinist Vaclav Hudecek, and world-class scholar Dagmar Capkova, known for her work on Czech 17th century thinker Comenius. A little earlier she shared her impressions on receiving an Order of Merit this year:
"To be sincere it was a complete surprise for me: I had no idea until I got a letter from the president's chancellor. The atmosphere at the castle was very festive and very friendly and sincere and I felt quite well. Of course I was very happy and it is a great honour for me. It is also something that will 'expect' further work from me and influence perhaps in Comenius research."
Not honoured on the evening were the Masin brothers, who shot their way out of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s. Their names have repeatedly been put forward by the Czech Senate but are generally seen as too "controversial" to be honoured officially on October 28th.