Americans don’t get much positive feedback about our role in the world these days. It seems we’re always stepping into it, wasting our time or being made fools of. There are places in the world however, where what we stand for is appreciated, even treasured.
On our trip to the Czech Republic we took a tour of the Museum of Communism in Prague. Our guide, Jana, grew up under communism and was a 21year old student when she joined the Velvet Revolution in 1989, helping overthrow the communist government.
The museum is very small but it tells a profound story. It was shocking to see the number of interrogation centers, labor camps and prisons in such a small country. It is fitting that communism be relegated a museum and safely out of people’s lives.
We learned about Jan Palach, the student who self-immolated himself in protest of the Soviet occupation in 1969. Later that year, the year of Woodstock for America’s youth, two more Czech students followed his example. Oh, the price of freedom.
The last exhibit tells the story of President George H. W. Bush’s visit on the first anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in 1990. Over 100,000 Czechs stood in Wenceslas Square and heard President Bush promise that America would never, ever leave the Czech people.
The picture illustrated on the exhibit however, isn’t of the President. It is the picture of a Czech couple, each listening intently, she holding an American flag to her chest.
Then we left the museum by stepping through an original section of the Berlin Wall and walking out into free Prague.
America has faced and stood up to the likes of Islamic extremists, Iran and Putin before. Our stands didn’t always go well and we didn’t always make the right decisions. Freedom however, demands that someone stand up to tyranny, no matter what its guise. If not us, I ask myself, then who?
We are going on to Budapest. Our hotel will be just a few blocks from the statue the people of Hungry built of President Ronald Reagan in 2013. It was a tribute in gratitude for his role in helping free them from communism and the Soviet Union. We’re going to visit it and enjoy being with the free people of Hungry for a few days. Then we’ll head back to our home, in America.