U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commemorates end of WWII in Plzeň, calls Pilsner Urquell beer "amazing"

Pompeo and Czech counterpart Tomáš Petříček laid wreaths at the WWII memorial before heading to the Pilsner Urquell brewery


Written by ČTK Published on 12.08.2020 08:50:17 (updated on 12.08.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Plzeň, West Bohemia, Aug 11 (CTK) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remembered the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII and the liberation of Plzeň by U.S. troops in May 1945, laying wreaths at the Thanks, America memorial with his Czech counterpart Tomáš Petříček.

The wreaths of flowers were decorated with tricolors in red, white, and blue, the colors of both the Czech and U.S. flags.

About 200 inhabitants of Plzeň, carrying American and Czech small flags, were watching the ceremony. Pompeo was shaking hands with some of them before his departure for another part of his program.

In his short speech, he thanked Plzeň and its inhabitants for having built the memorial and for annually commemorating the American soldiers who helped fight out freedom at the end of World War Two.

This celebration really keeps history alive, he said.

He also recalled that 30 years ago, then-U.S. ambassador to Prague Shirley Temple Black along with first post-Communist president Václav Havel had laid the foundation stone of the memorial. Then, for the first time after decades of the Communist rule and Soviet supremacy, the Plzeň inhabitants and Americans could together openly remember the U.S. military role in the liberation of this town.

Pompeo and Petříček in their speeches also mentioned the American veterans who visit the Liberation Festival in Plzeň in May every year, even at their very high age.

Petříček paid homage to one of the Plzeň liberators, Homer Cox, a member of the 2nd Infantry Division, who had died a month ago at the age of 103 years. “Mr Cox and his fellow fighters did not arrive here to take control of our country, but they came to liberate us and secure that future generations would live in freedom and prosperity. It is up to us not to forget their heroism and honor them,” Petříček said.

Plzeň Mayor Martin Baxa, who met the ministers in the Patton Memorial Pilsen, told Pompeo that Plzeň was the most American town in the Czech Republic.

Both ministers’ visit continued in the Plzeň brewery where their wives also accompanied them. Its chief brewer emeritus Václav Berka prepared beer tasting for them. “We tasted all beers that I was serving. Mr. Pompeo said the beer he was drinking was amazing,” Berka said. As a gift, Pompeo received a jug with a motif of the Pilsner Urquell brewery’s gate.

Pompeo arrived in the country for a short visit this morning. A trip to Plzeň was the main point in his program for today when he also shortly looked round the Patton Memorial Pilsen dedicated to the liberation of Plzeň by U.S. troops. On Wednesday, Pompeo will meet PM Andrej Babiš (ANO) and President Miloš Zeman and deliver an address in the Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament.

Pompeo was originally to arrive in Plzeň to attend the Liberation Festival in May, marking the 75th anniversary of the WWII’s end, but his visit was cancelled over the coronavirus epidemic.

The event, annually attended by tens of thousands of people, was cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead of the traditional parade of period military vehicles driving through Plzeň, the town prepared an eight-hour live broadcast on the Internet on the same day that was watched by some 45,550 people. Most of the program scheduled for this May will be postponed until next year.

Plzeň was the last large town liberated by the Third Army of General George Patton that arrived in Plzeň on May 6, 1945. During the Communist regime, the town was not allowed to remember this event. The first free celebrations of its liberation by the U.S. army took place in 1990, following the 1989 collapse of the Communist regime, and since then they have been held yearly.

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