100 years of Czechoslovakia Deserve a Celebration!
Today is a beautiful day, a special day. We, Czechs and Slovaks, celebrate a wonderful centennial anniversary, Czechoslovakia achieving the most precious gift any nation can ask for: its own independent state. It comes with the sweetest things as your own language, flag, anthem, land, a place to call home.
Under the Habsburg monarch since 1526, it was about time for the Bohemians and Slovakians to be free. Under a foreign rule over many centuries, we have grown to be a nonviolent, submissive, patient, perhaps a bit passive nation, but we kept our effort strong and the hope high. Without a state of our own, our identity was the cultural heritage: our language, traditions, customs, folk songs, folk tales, legends, poems, plays, dances... and that kept us alive and strong.
How did our independence come about?
Bohemia and Slovakia were first a part of a Holy Roman Empire that dissolved in 1806. Then came an Austrian Empire lasting from 1806 till 1867. Finally, our last formation to which we belonged was called the Austro-Hungarian Empire established in 1867 and dissolved after the WWI.
In 1918, President Wilson was entrusted the affairs in post-war Europe. He wrote a document "Fourteen Poinst"in which he touched on various aspects of suggestions for Europe after the defeat of Germany. The point No 10 was crucial for my country: "The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development."
Upon the Habsburg monarch Karl I, the ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
wrote to President Wilson asking for preservation of the Empire as a federation, our to be president Masaryk started to act. As a member of a so-called Provisional Government of Bohemia and Slovakia working from abroad (Masaryk from the USA, Stefanik in France, Benes in England) , Masaryk wrote to President Wilson a letter in which he expressed a wish for Bohemia and Slovakia to be freed from the Austro-Hungarian Empire as independent states. The letter convincingly spoke how the Czech and Slovak nations never lost their own identity, how they never lost their own soul that has been cultivated for centuries in spite of the oppression. In the second part of the letter, Masaryk wrote about the Czechoslovakian legions fiercely fighting on the eastern front in Russia and thus helping win WWI.
President Wilson replied immediately that the letter not only convinced him but also moved him. And the wheels of fortune started turning for the best of Czechoslovakia. America helped, Czech and Slovak expatriots helped, the wisdom of our leaders helped.
The big day came on October 28, 1918. That day the Czech and Slovak people just heard a first sentence of so much wished for Declaration of Independence: "People of Czechoslovakia, your century-long dream just came true today...." A Catholic priest Izidor Zahradnik stood at the Wenceslaw Square that day and was a first person to speak spontaneously to the new nation of Czechoslovakia: "We are free. Here at the steps of a monument of St. Wenceslaus we give a word of honor, that we will always be worthy of our freedom and we will always defend it with our lives."
It was their wisdom, acute intelligence, vast knowledge of history, understanding of the current affairs, the cultivation and education, but especially their humanism, the love for people, that made both, Masaryk and Wilson, the titans among leaders.
Today, we, Czechs and Slovaks living in San Diego, were celebrating our centennial aniversary with songs and dances from our rich heritage. From dancing group Karicka and Podkovicka to a children school group Slunicko and Poe Street Band, we were sharing with the American audience what kept us, the Czechs and Slovaks, happy: our folk heritage.
And that we celebrated our anniversary here in America has its own wonderful symbolism.
My apology for showing so far only my group Slunicko, I do not have more photos yet of the other groups! It will come soon!
Thank you for coming to watch, thank you for reading! So long!