Author: David Polak
After a year, Náměstí Míru in Prague 2 was once again filled with soldiers, army equipment and poppies. In front of the Basilica of St. Ludmila, the ninth year of commemoration of the Day of War Veterans took place. The Minister of Defense Jana Černochová and the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic Lieutenant General Karel Řehka personally arrived at the site. The goal was to present to the public not only the armed forces, but also the organizations that educate soldiers and care for veterans.
The all-day program started already at ten o’clock in the morning, when “Mírák” was filled mainly with children from kindergartens, elementary schools and, for the very first time, also students from secondary schools. A number of competitions and quizzes were prepared for them. Most visitors were interested in the display of historical and modern equipment of the Czech Army, such as the BVP-2 armored combat vehicle, the TITUS armored vehicle or the Tatra 815 trucks. Weapons in the form of handguns and a practical demonstration of self-defense and close combat were also on display.
Like every year, this year too, commemorative crosses of all fallen heroes since the founding of the Czech Republic were placed on the square. “There are thirty names, thirty human lives that have died in the past thirty years while performing tasks in operations in Saudi Arabia, the Balkans or Afghanistan. The memory of these members must be constantly remembered. I am therefore glad that every year more and more people come to Mírák. It has become a traditional event similar to those in the Western world, such as London or Paris. The great interest proves that the perception of the army is at a high level in our country,” said Minister of Defense Jana Černochová and thanked everyone who serves the country and citizens for supporting the armed forces.
The Minister, together with the Chief of the General Staff, honored the memory of all fallen veterans by placing a wooden cross with the poppy symbol. “We remember all our soldiers who went through the hardships of combat conflicts. Legionnaires, fighters against Nazism and soldiers in modern operations symbolically connect the past with the present with their legacy,” said Lieutenant General Karel Řehka, adding that the army has always stood and stands on quality people.
Poppies in the streets
The Day of War Veterans has been commemorated in the Czech Republic since 2001. The specific date November 11 refers to the events of the First World War, when on November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany in a train car near the French city of Compiègne. This ended the fighting of the First World War. The poppy then became the symbol of veterans. “It makes me very happy to see how many people go around with a poppy flower pinned to their clothes every year. It is not only a symbolic display of support, but also an actual one. By buying it, people contribute to the Military Solidarity Fund, which helps soldiers and veterans. Therefore, I would like to thank all the donors,” emphasized Minister Černochová.
For the very first time, soldiers in uniform went directly from Míru Square to the center of the capital city (IP Pavlova, Karlovo náměstí, Staroměstské náměstí, around Hlavní and Masaryk nádraží, Prague Castle) and offered people a poppy badge for a voluntary financial contribution.
Of course, there are more ways to help members of the military and their loved ones who find themselves in a difficult life situation than just buying a red flower. Any financial amount can be sent directly to the collection account number 44665522/0800 VS: 918 or via a donor SMS in the form of DMS VFS 30 or 60 or 90 to the phone number 87777. This support option works all year round.
Why is national defense important?
Once again this year, the POKOS (Citizens’ Preparation for State Defense) project, which falls under the Ministry of Defence, was presented to young and old visitors. From his employees, they learned why to celebrate War Veterans Day and that the defense of the state is not only a matter for the army, but for all citizens of the Czech Republic. “The army is not only there to protect the country, but to help in everyday situations. It played an important role in the fight against covid, or during extraordinary events, such as floods or large-scale fires,” revealed Daniela Hölzelová from the Department of Communications of the Ministry of Defense. All children’s education on site takes place in a playful and interactive way. There was no shortage of instruction on the main tasks of the army, which is celebrating 30 years of its existence this year, nor on the importance of the Czech Republic’s membership in NATO and the EU.
Traditional commemorative event before St. Ludmilou was held in cooperation not only with the Army of the Czech Republic, but also with the city district of Prague 2, the Czechoslovak legionary community, the Association of War Veterans, the Military Historical Institute of Prague and military schools – the University of Defense and the Military High School and the Higher Vocational School of the Ministry of Defense. The liaison army, which ensures all communication of the army in the Czech Republic, but also within the alliance environment, was also presented. The joint army, for example, is trying to integrate artificial intelligence and robotics more into the operation of the army.