Twenty one years ago today, students demonstrating on Národní Třída in Prague provided the final push that toppled the Socialist regime in Czechoslovakia. It was neither the first nor the last in a long chain of events leading to the collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia, but November 17th is the date that went down in history.
This day is my own personal Thanksgiving. I know the American Thanksgiving is coming next week, but my thoughts turn to thankfulness every year on the 17th. Thank you to the students, thank you to the dissidents, thank you to the ordinary people who came out in so many thousands in the days and weeks following November 17, 1989. Thank you for seizing the moment for change. Thank you for having the courage to stand up for what was right. Thank you for surviving 20 years of occupation and 40 years of the workers' paradise with your Czech subversive spirit intact.
Thank you for a world in which we whiz by the border on the highway rather than being searched or even shot for daring to cross. Thank you for opening the way for a girl from the West to meet a boy from the East and stay with him. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to live where we choose, how we choose, with whom we choose.
I didn't know it then, but the students on November 17, 1989 were demonstrating for me, too. My life was set in motion that day. Whatever happens in the future, let peace remain with this country.
Ať mír dál zůstává s touto krajinou