Czech Republic: TODAY Václav Havel's 80th birthday to be marked by assembly on Wenceslas Square
Wednesday, 5 October 2016 will mark 80 years since the birth of Václav Havel, and the occasion will be marked by a big assembly and concert on Wenceslas Square in Prague. The aim of the event is to remind people of Havel's life philosophy, his positions on various issues, and the values that he stood for.
The event is organized by the VH80 group, friends whose purpose is to publicly commemorate the late president in a way that will encourage and inspire Czech citizens, increase respect for the rules of liberal democracy, and affirm the Czech Republic's membership in the family of democratic, free states. The members of VH80 do not work with any political movements or parties.
The event will be opened by Bishop Václav Malý and the main speech will be a recording of one of Havel's. The concert will feature performances by MydyRabycad, Zrní, Korben Dallas and Michal Ambrož & hudba Praha.
The event will close with all of the performers singing a new song, "Milý spoluobčané" (“Dear Fellow Citizens") which was written for this occasion by Zdeněk Svěrák and Jaroslav Uhlíř. The moderator of the event will be Emma Smetana.
Romani community members have spoken up about what the late President meant to them. Here are some of their observations:
Jana Hejkrlíková, essayist
"Not many people in the world today have achieved the kind of moral dimension that the first Czech President, Václav Havel, did. He fulfilled the idea, expressed by Jesus, that 'many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first'."
Gabriela Hrabaňová, human rights activist
"My childhood was spent in dissident circles, sometimes around Václav Havel as well. Today I spend time in the circle of human rights activists, and Havel was close to that as well. In both cases, these are minority groups that advocate for the interests of those in need. In this respect, I sincerely believe that just as Václav Havel was my role model, he should be a role model for everybody, and as a human being, not just as a politician."
Jan Horváth Döme, poet
"I have a letter at home from President Václav Havel from 1999, when I sent him my first book of poems, Tumenge. He welcomed it with pleasure and put it in his library. Our Romani hearts are weeping for him, in Romanes we say he was a baro manuš - a great person. Na bisteraha! Never forget!"
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