Václav Havel was a legendary man, a man of great moral integrity and authority. By a twist of fate, Havel became a playwright, an imprisoned dissident, a human rights advocate, and the first President of post-communist Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He became a citizen of the world through his actions, wisdom and humility.
President Havel led the Czechoslovak people in the non-violent Velvet Revolution in 1989 and the country through a transformation to democracy and onto a path of membership in NATO and the European Union. Speaking as the first head of state from the former communist block before a joint session of US Congress just three months following the revolution, President Havel outlined his visions for relations between the US and Europe as well as the rest of the world in the new era.
Still, Havel held great respect for students, their firm courage to face totalitarianism in the streets of Prague, setting the stage for the revolution. Hence, on this first historic trip to America as President in 1990, Havel next visited Georgetown University as he specifically wished to spread the message regarding the students’ pivotal role in our country’s future.
I am deeply honored that Georgetown University and its President John DeGioia has collaborated on the Czech Embassy’s envisioned creation of a living memorial for Václav Havel to commemorate his legacy and appreciate his regard for the resolve of students. I further sincerely thank former First Lady of the Czech Republic Dagmar Havlová and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for their close involvement on Václav Havel's Place. I also express my deepest gratitude to our partnersthe Václav Havel Library in Prague and the American Friends of the Czech Republic for their invaluable contributions.
I believe that Václav Havel's Place provides a unique space for students to enjoy theatrical performances in Havel’s spirit or share their thoughts at the bench of “democratic debate,” exclusively designed by Havel's court architect Bořek Šípek. Via the memorial’s linden tree, the national tree of the Czech Republic, I am pleased that Václav Havel's Place will symbolize the ever flourishing friendship between our country and the United States of America.