Many of my friends, colleagues or associates know me only as an American. I came to the United States twenty eight years ago and quickly assimilated to the lifestyle, culture, language and way of life we call AMERICA.
One of my most important priorities was to become United States citizen as soon as I could. I believe if you adopt new country as your home you also have to become a citizen who contributes to betterment of the country, not just exploiting its resources because they’re there. United States is the greatest country in the world not for what we have but anyone who is willing to learn, work and sacrifice can accomplish. Whether bank account full of money, spiritual and religious freedoms, having happy healthy family or just simply being who you are is your goal in life this is the place.
We all do not want the same thing but if you’re willing to earn it, you sure can have.
That is my view of these United States of America. BUT…..
I never forgot where I came from, where I learned the values I hold dear to this day or where I mastered the craft of playing hockey.
I’ll never forget who inspired me, what event growing up in Czechoslovakia(it was Czechoslovakia at a time I grew up there) humbled me when I needed it or what makes me proud to this day.
On a nice early fall September day I received an invitation for my wife and I to attend Czech Centennial Celebration in Chicago on behalf of CZ-USA. The city of Chicago and its surrounding areas have over 150 years of strong Czech heritage history. What a great honor it was.
CZ-USA being the main sponsor of the event organizers recognized the impact this company has had on bringing finest products to the American market. CZ-USA has convinced the same market and gun owning American public they are a “force to be reckon with” when it comes to finest firearms manufacturing.
The main event was held at the Chicago Union League building. It provided us the opportunity to reflect on the history of the small East-Central European country since its creation exactly one hundred years ago.
The country was formed (like many today’s Central and Eastern European countries) after the break up of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire at the conclusion of the World War I.
Czechoslovakia always had thriving industrial sector and extremely resourceful agriculture. The newfound freedom and independence meant the riches are not going to be taken by the rulers from Vienna or Budapest. The success in the following two decades was such that the country made the top of Hitler’s list of countries to occupy first before Nazi Germany’s expansion and invasion of the East. Czechoslovakia in 1930’s had one of the most modernized and strongest military in the world. Due to a betrayal of Great Britain’s prime minister Chamberlain and French’s prime minister Daladier at the Munich Conference in September 1938 the country fell into the hands of another ambitious empire. This time it was Hitler’s Germany.
Six years of terror was followed by liberation by Soviet Red Army. That euphoria of freedom did not last long. In February 1948 communist faction in the democratically elected government and ceased absolute power for next forty years. There was no fighting back. The same Red Army that liberated Czechoslovakia never left and became the occupying army on directive from Moscow. The country became cold war’s “tip of a spear” sharing western border with US supported Western Germany and Austria.
You can only imagine what the citizens of this small country must have thought and felt through the decades of occupation by one world’s superpower or the next.
This brings me to people who became my idols and role models.
Whether it was my grandparents who created great environments for their children to thrive in the midst of psychological terror by their own government or many world class athletes who inspired me to reach goals beyond what I thought was possible.
These are true “freedom fighters”. They never gave up the hope for better life or freedom not necessarily for themselves, it was too late, but for their children or their grandchildren. I am one of their grandchildren. I am writing this in the land of the free and the home of the brave because they sacrificed, worked and taught us the values that make you better no matter where you’re coming from or where you’re going.
I am so grateful I have become US citizen twenty two years ago last week but I am also extremely gratefully I grew up and learned about life and work in Czechoslovakia.
And for that reason CONGRATULATIONS ON THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS and many more to come.