A True American Partner–Czech Republic

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By Kevin Roeten:

Hitler’s Crushing Clutch

When one looks as Europe, there’s only one country who yearly celebrates America’s intervention in World War II, ridding the world of Hitler and his minions. It was not France, England, Spain, or any other European country that should be beholden to America—it was the Czech Republic.

On 1/1/93, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. But the Czech Republic still celebrates America winning the war.

The 5th grade kids are each assigned one of the American ‘liberators’ buried there. Their grave is the student’s responsibility for the year, and they learn everything about this hero. The hero’s surviving family is sent letters, and they respond to the child who tends their loved one’s grave all year.

Plzen– Star Of Czech Republic

One might wonder if anyone remembers America’s sacrifice in WWII. The answer is in Plzen (pronounced [Pil sen]) , a small town in the Czech Republic. On 5/6/45, Plzen was liberated.  The date 5/6/10 marks the 65th anniversary of their liberation by George Patton’s 3rd Army. Every American should visit Plzen, because it loves America, and its Soldier.  Every 5 years, Plzen has the city’s Liberation Celebration. Even sixty-five years later, thousands of Plzen citizens line the streets for miles to say ‘thank you’.

A special moment is always reserved at the crash site for Lt. Virgil Kirkham, who volunteered to go on the 82nd mission, and was the last recorded USAAF pilot killed in Europe during WWII.

After this pilot’s “P-47” Thunderbolt was shot down, a 14 yr-old Czech girl (Zdenka Sladkova) was so moved by his sacrifice she made a vow to care for him. Forsixty-five years Zdenka (currently 79) cared for Kirkham’s crash site and memorial near her home. On May 4th, she was recognized by the Mayor of her home town (Trhanova), for her sacrifice and extraordinary effort to honor this American hero.

The Czech people are teaching their children about America’s sacrifice for their freedom. American soldiers are the ‘rock stars’ from which these children and parents ask for autographs.

Actual Czech Republic Location

The landlocked country was bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the north. Since 1002 it was formally recognized as part of the Holy Roman Empire. After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in central and eastern Europe.

It is also ranked third most peaceful country in Europe, and most democratic. It is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy, a member of the European Union, and NATO. The name of Czechoslovakia reflected the union of the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia within the one country. The largest city–Prague (Praha)–was the capitol of Czechoslovakia.

Between 1948-1989 more than 250,000 Czechs and Slovaks were sent to prison for ‘anti-state activities’. Over 400,000 emigrated. During the Nazi occupation in WWII, many children were targeted and killed. In Czechoslovakia, the Lidice Memorial, near Prague, is a memorial to child victims of Nazi occupation. Located in front of the museum, the Lidice Memorial was placed in the middle of the fight against Nazism.

More Accolades From Plzen

The Brian LaViolette Foundation established the Scholarship of Honor in tribute to the American Soldier, past and present. Each year, a different military hero will be honored in tribute to America’s mission to liberate Europe. A graduating senior entering the military will be from a high school in Plzen. The first award was presented on 5/11 in honor of Kirkham, that young 20-year-old “P-47” pilot killed in the final days of WWII. Presenting the award was Marion Kirkham, who knows the true meaning of service and sacrifice. Marion is Kirkham’s brother, who himself served during WWII in the US Air Corps.

During Liberation Celebration, flags are hanging all around town. Many are the Czech Republic flags, but just as many are the Red, White, and Blue of Old Glory.

Czech Republic Needs Missile Defense

Now we hear the Czech Republic recently announced it was withdrawing from plans to participate in the US Missile Defense program out of frustration at its highly reduced role in Missile Defense, originally  initiated as a deterrent against a possible Iranian threat. The previous Bush administration had proposed stationing ten ground-based interceptors in Poland, and a radar facility in the Czech Republic. But in 9/09, the Obama administration scrapped those plans and proposed a revamped program with an unspecified role for the Czech Republic.

The Czech defense minister, Alexandr Vondra (Czech ambassador to US) was previously an outspoken proponent of Czech participation in Missile Defense. But at a recent Brussels meeting of NATO defense ministers, Vondra called the revamped Czech role as nothing but “a consolation prize.”

Leave it to Obama to attempt to ruin what is good in American history.

A Truly Diverse Country 

The author is proud to say much of this initial information came from his brother-in-law, a very proud Czech-American. Of course, the author is a ‘just-as-proud’ Dutch-Polish-French-Indian-American.

© Copyright by Kevin Roeten, 2013. All rights reserved.

Kevin Roeten
About Kevin Roeten 168 Articles
CHO's science editor Kevin Roeten is a former Chemical Engineer. He enjoys riding the third rail of journalism: politics and religion. As an orthodox Catholic, Roeten appreciates the juxtaposition of the two supposedly incompatible subjects.   Kevin is a Guest Columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, and the Independent (Ohio), and writes for numerous blogs (Nolan Chart, Allvoices) and newspapers, including USA Today.   A collaborator in the book Americans on Politics, Policy, and Pop Culture (Jason Wright and Aaron Lee), he is also an amateur astronomer, and delves into scientific topics.   Kevin Roeten can be reached at roetenks@charter.net.