Czechoslovakia 100th anniversary celebration Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland October 28, 2018
2018 is the centennial year of the founding of the country of Czechoslovakia after World War I. This little country, formed out of a piece of the Austro-Hungarian empire became an example of people who had persevered for hundreds of years despite challenges to their very existence.
Sokol Greater Cleveland and other organizations hosted a weekend full of events commemorating the centennial of the founding of Czechoslovakia 100 years ago at the Czech Cultural Center in Historic Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland Ohio.
In that very hall the Cleveland Agreement of 1915 started the creation of the nation of Czechoslovakia.
The festive weekend was be held at the Sokol Greater Cleveland Czech Cultural Center in historic Bohemian National Hall, 4939 Broadway in Cleveland. On Saturday October 27, there was Czech, Slovak and Rusyn music and dancers, gymnastic demonstrations, as well as food and imported beers, tours of the historic building and museum, ethnic exhibits and sale items and goods from participating organizations. Children's activities included a puppet show, a mushroom hunt, passport signing, Marionettes and other classroom and fun activities.
Sunday's celebration feature a sit-down dinner at Bohemian National Hall with music and presentations.
The events on Sunday began with ceremonies led by Paul Burik at the Czech, Slovak and Rusin Cultural Gardens in Cleveland. 18 representative were on hand as national anthems were played and brief proclamations were made. The group placed a wreath at monuments representing their respective leaders; Masaryk, Stefanik and Duchnovich.
Czechs, Slovaks and Rusyns in front of the Masaryk statue in the Czech Garden
In front of the Stefanik statue in the Slovak Garden
At the Duchnovich bust in the Rusin Garden
One of the goals of the weekend celebration was to honor the families of Cleveland area Czechs and Slovaks who fought as World War I Legionnaires in the French army for the liberation and freedom of the new nation. The Centennial Committee sought out members of the Legionnaire families to share any pictures, letters, mementos or uniform items or simply to be honored or join in the celebration of the heroic sacrifices of these brave volunteers.
Alice Khol served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the Sunday event and welcomed the crowd to the room where the Cleveland agreement of 1915 was signed.
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Alice Khol introduced Marjorie Juba who sang the US, Czech (Kde Domov Muj) and Slovak (Nad Tatrou Sa Blyska) national anthems.
Next, Laurel Tombazzi who sang the Rusyn national anthem, Ja Rusyn Byl, Jesmi Budu.
Rusyn community at Czechoslovakia 100th celebration
Cleveland City Councilman Tony Brancatelli presented proclamations to honor the occasion to Steve Sebesta and Helen Roth from Mayor Frank Jackson and also Cleveland City Council.
Councilman Tony Brancatelli, Steve Sebesta and Helen Roth
Councilman Tony Brancatelli and MC Alice Khol
Father Joseph Callahan, Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Cleveland, gave the Benediction and invocation.
Father Joseph Callahan, Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church
Before and during the dinner, the Bill Hronek Czech Band performed. Here is a song which translates to Go to sleep my children" at the event.
Bill Hronek Czech Band
Enjoying dinner and the music
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After dinner MC Alice Khol introduced and thanked the participating organizations and said that "We cannot let our heritage die." She said that they must continue the work and traditions of their parents and grandparents.
Alice also told the history of the Historic Bohemian National Hall where the banquet was held and where the Cleveland Agreement of 1915 was signed.
Crowd at Czechoslovakia 100th celebration in Bohemian National Hall
There were 3 other speakers after dinner. First was Stephen J. Sebesta PhD. Before his keynote speech, Stephen Sebesta told of growing up and hearing Czech music coming from every other house. He showed the Czech flag flying over Cleveland City Hall and then played a video message from Petr Gandalovic, the Czech Ambassador to the US.
Czechoslovakia flag flying over Cleveland City Hall
The title of Sebesta's keynote presentation was "Czechoslovakia in 1918: A Fragile Coalition."
Stephen Sebesta speaking
Roster of World War I Cleveland Czechoslovak Legionnaires
Next, John Sabol, the new Czech voice of Cleveland told of the history that Cleveland and in particular the Bohemian Hall had in the creation of Czechoslovakia and beyond. His presentation was titled "Why Cleveland?"
The event concluded with Paul Burik who spoke of the new Cleveland Agreement of 1915 Lobby in the historic hall.
Cleveland Agreement of 1915 Lobby
Congratulations to the organizations and members of the Czech, Slovak and Rusyn communities for putting together such a grand weekend to celebrate the centennial of Czechoslovakia.
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