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Czech Embassy Commemorates Havel@80

The Embassy of the Czech Republic organized a number of events to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the birth of former President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel on September 26 – 29, 2016, in Washington, DC.

Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Jan Hamáček and former First Lady of the Czech Republic Dagmar Havlová, as well as additional members of the Czech delegation, including Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Czech Parliament Karel Schwarzenberg and Deputy Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Lukáš Kaucký, partook in the celebrations.

On September 26, the Alliance for New Music-Theatre presented the play Protest, written by Václav Havel and directed by Susan Galbraith, recreated in the original staging atmosphere of “apartment theater” at the residence of the Ambassador of the Czech Republic. Havel and other publically banned artists in former communist Czechoslovakia had found this radical solution as a way to share their works with their audiences as private living room performances. The play, which itself exposes life under a totalitarian regime, was also performed at the Woodrow Wilson House on September 27 and 28.

On September 27, commemorations took place in the morning in the United States Capitol, where a bust of President Havel stands since November 2014 to serve as a constant reminder of his lifetime dedicated to the advocacy of universal human rights and democratic principles. Prominent speakers, such as Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Democratic Leader of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Joe Barton, Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky and Debbie Dingell, Ambassador Daniel Fried, Chairman of the American Friends of the Czech Republic Fred Malek and Boardmember of the Václav Havel Library Foundation Elliot Berke, offered their remarks on Václav Havel’s legacy.

In the afternoon, an intimate ceremony with former First Lady of the Czech Republic Dagmar Havlová commemorated the 80th anniversary at the Václav Havel’s Place at Alumni Square at Georgetown University.  Speaker Hamáček and Ambassador of the Czech Republic Petr Gandalovič spoke on the occasion. Georgetown students in Theater & Performance Studies Program, led by Professor Natsu Onoda Power, performed the late President’s poem, This is How I Begin.  After being announced as the winner of the essay competition The Salvation of this Human World and receiving a trip to the Czech Republic, complements of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and CzechTourism, Georgetown student Melina Delkic was announced as the winner of an essay contest, inspired by the landmark speech on human meekness and human responsibility which President Václav Havel gave before a Joint Session of the US Congress in 1990.  To conclude, Czech musician Jaroslav Hutka, performed Havlíčku, Havle, a song associated with the revolutionary atmosphere of 1989 in former Czechoslovakia and dedicated to his friend and former fellow dissident, President Václav Havel. The participants and guests then symbolically tied ribbons in the tri-colors of the Czech flag on the site’s linden tree to remember the Velvet Revolution.

In the evening at the Czech Embassy, Ambassador Gandalovič held a reception, during which Speaker Hamáček offered a few words. Guests enjoyed a photo exhibition from Václav Havel´s career by Czech photographer Jiří Jírů and a musical performance by Jaroslav Hutka.

On September 29, the celebrations concluded with a lecture by Dr. Ivan M. Havel at the Czech Embassy. In Conversation over the Prison Wall, he spoke about the role of dissents and intellectuals under the communist regime and share his correspondence with his imprisoned brother Václav. Ivan M.Havel in the end launched a book of his dissent friend Gabriel Gossel who wrote a book with Filip Šír from Moravian Library of Brno Recorded Sound in Czech Lands, 1900-1946.


Havel 80