Václav Havel gets space amongst greats in US Congress
The late Czech president, dissident and playwright Václav Havel was honoured by members of the US Congress on Wednesday. A bust of Mr Havel was unveiled at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol in the presence of Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Havel’s widow, Dagmar. The ceremony concluded a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which toppled the Communist regime.
John Boehner said it was a poetic, but paradoxical honour for a man who in his own words lived a paradoxical life:
“Here was a writer who exposed the Communists using a one weapon that they could not match and that was the truth. For this he received three stays in prison, countless interrogations and constant surveillance, but he kept on writing, hiding pages of his manuscripts throughout his home. Offered a chance to flee to the West, he refused in saying “I am simply a Czech bumpkin through and through”.
In his speech, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka recalled the words of Václav Havel from his famous address to the nation on New Year’s Eve on January 1, 1990, when Havel said “No one who had paid the price for freedom should be forgotten”.
“By unveiling the bust of Václav Havel we pay homage not only to him but as he befittingly described it, to each and every one who refused to bend down before pressure and fought for freedom, despite a threat of imprisonment, suffering and death. To each and every one, who raised his or her voice like the Czech writer and playwright Václav Havel.”
Václav Havel is only the fourth European to be honoured in this way, joining the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and Hungarian national leader Lajos Kossuth.