Ben Kallos’ Proclamation at the 30 Years of Freedom Gala
By Joseph Balaz | Thank you for attending the 30 Years of Freedom Gala, our second annual gala organized together with the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation. Your enthusiastic support made the evening a soaring success and a thoroughly enjoyable celebration. The proceeds from our Live Auction will ensure the continuation of the VHLF’s unique program Contest for the Best Student Mini-Drama. Heartfelt thanks to the BBLA & VHLF team for such a well-executed event.
I am proud to let you know that Ben Kallos, New York City Council Member of the 5th District, honored BBLA as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in the Velvet Revolution. He delivered the Proclamation at the 30 Years of Freedom Gala at the Bohemian National Hall on September 26, 2019.
The Gala’s festivities included the presentation of awards to notable individuals. The BBLA 2019 Award for Unparalleled Service to the Czech and Slovak Communities, our second annual award - a glass object created by Czech glass artist Zdenek Lhotsky - was presented to Ambassador Craig Stapleton and Mrs. Dorothy Stapleton for their leadership and public service benefiting Central Europe since their days in Prague. “Our love affair with the Czech Republic began when we were diverted to Brno due to bad weather in Prague. After several hours delay, we arrived in Prague and our new home, the Petchek Palace. At first it seemed overwhelming, but as we became familiar with our new lives, we developed an enormous respect and affection for a people, who in the 1920’s represented the 7th most vibrant economy in the world. Many years of brutal totalitarian regimes did not dampen the Czechs’ enthusiasm for freedom and a democratic way of life. It took a philosopher, a visionary, a bold, courageous and modest play write, Vaclav Havel, to lead them to freedom,” said Dorothy Stapleton.
The Vaclav Havel Library Foundation’s 2019 Award to a Courageous Writer at Risk was given to Asli Erdogan, an internationally renowned Turkish author and activist. As she could not attend the gala, the award was presented to the translator of her books, Sevinc Turkkan, by Dagmar Havlova, wife of Vaclav Havel. The award includes $5,000 and an artist’s book “Field Notes” created by Czech-American artist Katerina Kyselica. In her speech, Mrs. Havlova stated: “It is a great honor for me to participate in today’s celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and to be here with you… My husband cared deeply about our winner’s country, Turkey, and the situation she describes. I am sure that he would be cheering for her now, if he could be here.”