Masses commemorate 27th anniversary of Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic in march for freedom
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- I watched the live stream from the demonstrations commemorating the 27th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czech Republic with mixed feelings as they turned into protests against the current government. That is mainly against the third president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman.
Only yesterday hundreds of college students walked out against the President-elect Donald Trump in the USA following high school students’ and citizens’ protests across the nation.
In a time of political unrest all over the world, I attempt to dissect everything impartially. I don’t know if it is always possible to be totally without any bias because I don’t live in social isolation.
“Milos into the trash,” reverberated the crowds marching from the Prague Castle Square known as “Hradcany” across the Manes Bridge over the Vltava River and onto the Wenceslas Square. A stage was set up by the King Wenceslas statue for a concert for freedom in the evening.
At times the crowds used the 1989 slogan of the Velvet Revolution, “It’s already here,” That was a reference to the movement started by students in memory of the death of Jan Opletal by the Nazis in 1939.
“We don’t want another totality,” was the message for the Nov. 17, 2016 events. “It’s already here.”
“It was always here, then and now,” I say while watching the history repeat itself.
I was still in Czechoslovakia in that critical period of time from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, when the communist officials including former president Gustav Husak resigned under pressure.
A democratic coalition and an economic forum led by former dissident Vaclav Havel replaced the dictatorship.
I was finalizing my emigration to the USA to join my parents and my husband, who had already left the homeland for Austria in 1988.
I dedicate a few chapters in the Greenwich Meridian © memoir to this difficult time in my life, when I was living alone with my kids. My grandfather Joseph Drabek was already in the hospital dying from lung cancer.
In those 23 days from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10, 1989, I learned more than I have learned in all the schools: past and present, physical or virtual.
I’ve learned that a change in the society is possible as long as enough people want it, and if they are willing to stand behind their beliefs in face of adversity by taking action.
The 1989 demonstrations for freedom from the communist dictatorship spread across the country. I was standing together with thousands of others on the town squares in the cold November nights, sporting the tri-color ribbons on the lapel of my coat.
My friend Zuzana was watching my two-and-a-half year old son Jake in the stroller, while her boyfriend was speaking from the podium.
We all took part in the change. It didn’t happen by itself. And it didn’t happen overnight. It started with the political movement for the reformation of the communist party known as the “Prague Spring” in 1968.
The Velvet Revolution was 21 years in the making since the Soviet tanks invaded the country to punish the reformers including Havel. Even in prison, Havel, known as the poet of democracy, never gave up.
I’ve learned that anything is possible including my highly improbable exit from the politically torn Czechoslovakia.
I’ve learned that we are stronger than we think, and that we have to make decisions that will impact other people, as well.
Speaking about decision-making.
I was standing on the brink of freedom, with exit visa in my drawer, shaking with cold and not just from the November night, but from the things to come.
The CTK Czech Press Office covered the demonstrations in Prague.
To be continued……..
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