President Zeman honours 38 personalities on Czechoslovak Independence Day

In an address to the nation on the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day, President Miloš Zeman said the holiday should be a celebration of national pride in the outstanding people who had shaped the country’s history.

He expressed regret that due to the coronavirus epidemic he could not hand out high state distinctions to those deserving of the honour at Prague Castle, thanking them for their outstanding contribution to the country’s development.

The list of 38 laureates would be made public and the awards would be presented to them in a year’s time, Mr. Zeman said.

Among those honoured with the country’s highest distinction, the Order of the White Lion, are WWII  hero Miloslav Masopust and war pilots František Chábera and Josef Koukal decorated in memoriam; , likewise legionary and resistance fighter Heliodor Píka, victim of a communist judicial murder.

As the president announced earlier, he also awarded the country’s highest state distinction to the outgoing Minister of Health Roman Prymula for his good work in managing the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic. The president likewise honoured selected members of the integrated rescue system in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

The President of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský received the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and military historian Eduard Stehlík was awarded a Medal of Merit.

Czech pop idol Karel Gott, who died last year, was awarded in memoriam.