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30 Years of Freedom Celebrations/ Part 1 Bonfire

We met, we talked, we sang, we ate sausages, and with a bonfire crowded with a charming and loud group of about 70 plus Czechs and Slovaks, we started the two-week long celebration of 30 years of freedom in Europe!

We celebrated that glorious month of November 1989 when we, in Czechoslovakia, booted out the Commies with an unprecedented class, great style, unmatched grace and a bold gesture.

Our Revolution did not know any violence and caused no casualties. We simply went to the streets and shouted at the top of our lungs that we want freedom.

During the Revolution the crowd sang folk songs, protest songs, shouted out spontaneously composed slogans, chimed with house keys, tolling the bells for the Commies...and then, after ten days of this peaceful revolution, the oppressors were defeated, they forfeit their power after 41 long years and we became free!! FREE!

So tonight, before we sang our anthem, we remembered those who helped to set the scene in the long fight against Communism: All the brave people from Hungary who stood up to Russia first in 1956,. 2,500 people lost their lives, 200.000 fled the country. Their leader of the opposition, Imre Nagy, was executed in 1958...then came Prague's Spring of 1968, 82 people were killed, thousands of people lost their careers and their already limited freedom shrunk even more, the politician Dubček became the humanistic epitome of 1968 upheaval.... next came Solidarnosc in Poland, established in August 1980 by Lech Walesa, an organization aiming to fight the oppression ....

We owe quite a deal to all of those mentioned as well as to Michail Gorbachev and his Glasnost and Perestrojka,

trends to "humanize" Communism, but by that time there was nothing "humane" about it and the end was inevitable. As the world knew it, President Reagan urges Gorbachev in June of 1987, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down the wall."

And the pressure was too great to sustain the old regime, the voices all around Eastern Europe too strong, the crowds of unhappy citizens too great to suppress.

And things turned out for good: the crowds prevailed and the wall, that shameful Berlin Wall fell on November 9.... Our country was next, November 17 1989 Czechoslovakia started its own 10 day long Revolution bringing freedom to Czechoslovakia....I and was there in the crowds, a young teacher fresh from college and her students, marching singing and screaming for freedom.

I cherish freedom every day as much as it may sound phony, but I do. The fact that I can move freely from place to place no matter where it is, the fact that I can do as I please, it never got "normal" to me. I have never stopped wondering how lucky I am to live in freedom.

It was a beautiful evening, everyone seemed happy, people were talking loudly, singing old hits and folk songs from our homeland, enjoying each other's company. I have to say how grateful I am for the Czech and Slovak community with which I can spend evening like this. I love my American friends who inspire me and make me a better person, with their unmatched tolerance, patience, and honesty. And as much I need them in my life, I need this community of Czech and Slovak expats who help me stay complete.

To freedom! To Václav Havel and his likes.

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