Prague, a city in mourning for Václav Havel

In December 2011 Prague expressed the admiration and love that so many there  felt for the leader of the Velvet Revolution, Václav Havel (1936-2011), who passed away on 18 December. The respiratory problems he suffered from had intensified in recent years, causing him to withdraw from the public arena. Havel was an intellectual born into an upper-class family, targeted by the communist regime; he was a charismatic figure, who became the leading voice of protest against the totalitarian regime. He was a poet, playwright, philosopher, patriot, and political leader, who guided the way of his people from totalitarianism to Western democracy. Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia (1989-92) and the first of the Czech Republic (1993-2003). In December 2011, flags all over Prague were at half-staff, newspapers ran articles of his life and achievements, his picture was on the front page of every newspaper and magazine, posters and banners expressing admiration and love for him and sorrow for his loss were hanging from buildings, candles were lit and flowers offered in his memory at every corner of the city. Prague honored the national icon and the government declared a three-day mourning period (December 21-23) to conclude with a funeral ceremony on 23 December at St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle. World leaders attended a Mass in his honor, and mourners listened to music by the composer Antonin Dvorak. At noon 23 December Czech citizens and the entire country paused for one minute of silence as an expression of the grief that was felt through the nation. It is so rare to see a political leader loved and mourned with such intensity, like a family member. It was quite inspirational.

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One Response to Prague, a city in mourning for Václav Havel

  1. Wow! I love your last photo with all the red candles.

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