As of last Sunday, Czechs will probably have a new Where were you when… question.
Where were you when you found out about the death of Vaclav Havel? Havel died in his sleep at his weekend house, following a lengthy period of health problems. Since February he has been cancelling most of his scheduled events and his public appearances were less than sporadic. According to some news reports, he has died of circulatory system failure.
Most Czech personalities comment on Havel’s undeniable contribution to the end of communism. Notable world leaders were quick to respond in their own individual ways, including Barack Obama or the Dalai Lama.
His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. (…) He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world. — Barack Obama (source: AFP)
A three-day official mourning period will be observed from Wednesday to Friday. A state funeral will take place on Friday. Havel’s family decided to have him cremated. The Czech government is considering the adoption of a special law to recognize his contribution to freedom and democracy.
The truth is that Havel taught Czechs that democracy is a hard work and that it is one of the most important things to be thankful for. Since the Velvet Revolution, Havel has commented on the issue of freedom in less fortunate countries and regions (such as Russia or Tibet), reminding world leaders (with more or fewer attributes of dictatorship) that the 20th century democracy benefits everyone.
He represented civilized politics in the Czech Republic, which is something that we have not seen in this country for a few years. Maybe even from the moment he resigned. Some people called him idealist and said that many of his views had little in common with the way politics is done these days. But according to many Czechs, he was the force that held many politicians back… According to a recent research, 99 percent of Czechs who did not vote in the last elections are disgusted with politics.
Thousands of people passed a plain coffin guarded by the late president’s coffin to pay their last respect on Monday.
There have already been some proposals that the Prague International Airport should be named after Havel.