Friday, 23 December 2011

Václav Havel RIP

The Czech Republic is in mourning for its former president Václav Havel, whose funeral takes place at midday today.

Václav Havel addressing hundreds of thousands of people on Wenceslas Square in 1989

Václav Havel led - and still symbolises - the Velvet Revolution of 1989, which overthrew communism and restored democracy to this part of the world. He was a fighter for and defender of freedom. For me he is a hero and inspiration.

On Wednesday I went into the centre of Prague to pay my respects. On Wenceslas Square, my eye was drawn to a handwritten note lying among the field of flickering candles: "Honza, 22 let, 22 let svobody" ("Honza, 22 years old, 22 years of freedom"). Czechs are feeling this loss personally. So am I.

When I embark on the final stage of my Circuit Ride in the spring, Havel and his legacy will be foremost in my mind. Before 1989, most of my route along the Czech border would have been out of bounds to the vast majority of the population, never mind to an English cyclist. Now I am free to cross in and out of the country as I like.

Thank you Václav Havel. RIP.

2 comments:

Keith Moore said...

My wife Kasia & I are currently in Jastrzębie Zdrój, Poland (walking distance to the Czech Republic border) for the holidays. The TV news coverage of Václav Havel's death and funeral have been nonstop.

I've been very impressed with the solemn, respectful manner in which the Czechs responded to his death. He was obviously a well loved, highly respected person.

Circuit Rider CZ said...

Thank you Keith. Solemn and respectful sums it up perfectly.

I just heard the 21-gun salute beating like a heavy heart over the city.

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