The commemorative event at the Thank You America! Memorial was the peak of the Liberation Festival in Pilsen that started last Friday, May 1. Twenty-one American and Belgian veterans joined the local commemorative event marking the liberation of this region of the Czech Republic from Nazi oppression 70 years ago.
U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, said he felt deeply touched when seeing the crowds of people, U.S. flags and war veterans. At the main ceremony he said:
“70 years ago these young men, and of course they are still very young in many ways, came thousands of miles to fight. They did not fight to occupy territories, they did not come to take resources, they did not come to stay. They came to fight for important fundamental values. And among these values is the idea that Europe remains undivided, free, and at peace. This country had 70 years of peace, but only 25 years of freedom. We all must guard, take care of, and tell the truth about freedom and how fragile it is.”
One of the American veterans, Earl Ingram, delivered a message on behalf of himself and his comrades: “One of the veterans, our oldest veteran who is with us today, will be 100 years old next month – Bob Gilbert. We have changed considerably during the past seventy years. Our outer appearances are different. But there is one thing that you cannot see, that is inside, and I can speak for all of us, you were placed into our hearts seventy years ago and you will be there forever.”
In recent weeks, the U.S. diplomats participated in many commemorative cremonies in south and western Bohemia. Photogallery can be found on our Flickr.