On this day: The world remembers Václav Havel on his 87th birthday

Leaders took to social networks this morning to honor Havel, the former president and renowned playwright who led Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 05.10.2023 10:45:00 (updated on 07.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Across the Czech Republic and around the globe today, government officials, world leaders, and ordinary people are commemorating the 87th birthday of former Czechoslovak and Czech President Václav Havel.

Leaders took to social media networks to honor Havel, the renowned playwright who led Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution against communist rule. He was born on Oct. 5, 1936, and died on Dec. 18, 2011, at his cottage in Hrádečka at the age of 75.

"I would like to commemorate him not only as a dissident and a politician, but also as a man who uniquely influenced the image of the world and the imagination of my generation, those who experienced the fall of communism at the difficult age of 14 or 15," Czech culture minister Martin Baxa wrote on social network X.

Worldwide legacy

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a photo of Havel with former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, recognizing his diplomatic legacy.

Havel's impact within the EU was recognized by President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen who paid tribute to the leader on a recent visit to Prague by placing a bouquet of flowers at the Havel memorial in front of the capital's National Theatre.

Czech embassies around the world, including in Oslo and Bangkok, also marked Havel's birth date with posts recalling his democratic legacy.

Regional celebrations

In Trutnov on Thursday evening, a commemorative plaque featuring a lifelike bas-relief of Havel will be unveiled on the Vesmír Cinema building. Sculpted by Michal Gabriel, it stands along Václav Havel Embankment, named in honor of the late leader since 2016.

Havel had ties to Trutnov, having lived nearby in the 1970s and worked in a brewery there. His work inspired him to write the acclaimed play Audience. He was also a regular guest at the Trutnov music festival. In 2010, Havel received an honorary citizenship award in Trutnov.

Meanwhile, in Olomouc, Havel's writings and speeches will be read aloud accompanied by his favorite music.

In Prague

In Prague, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová will visit Havel's family gravesite at Vinohrady Cemetery to pay her respects to the first president of independent Czechia.

The speaker posted on social network X this morning: "Václav Havel has a great deal to do with the fact that we have become a free country with a firm anchorage in NATO and the EU. Our foreign policy is based on his ideals and I am extremely proud of that."

Havel's grave in Vinohrady / photo via Wikipedia Commons
Havel's grave in Vinohrady / photo via Wikipedia Commons

The Václav Havel Library in Prague has released a video of the former Czech president on its social media in honor of his 87th birthday.

Prague Airport, which changed its name to Václav Havel Airport 11 years ago, also commemorated its namesake. The Prague-Ruzyně airport was renamed Václav Havel Airport Prague on Oct. 5, 2012, a step approved by the Czech government in March of the same year.

As one of the leaders of the democratic revolution in Czechoslovakia that toppled communist rule, Havel was a staunch advocate for civic society. Today his polices are a touch point for debates over liberal democracy and human rights.

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