October 28 is the national holiday Independent Czechoslovak State Day (Den vzniku samostatného československého státu), a date honoring the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, when it split from the Austro-Hungarian empire following WWI.
Despite the “velvet divorce” between the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, it’s still one of the most significant dates in the year for both countries – and one of the dates on which all stores over 200 square meters in size must close according to a new Czech law.
In 2018, the Czech Republic will celebrate a big anniversary – 100 years since the Czechoslovak state was founded. Prague is already preparing to celebrate.
Yesterday, US Secretary of State and former presidential candidate John Kerry, who lost to George W. Bush in the 2004 election, released a statement addressing the Czech people on the historical anniversary.
Kerry, by the way, comes from Czech heritage. His paternal grandfather was born in Horní Benešov, where his great-grandfather worked in a local brewery.
Here’s his full statement, from the pages of the U.S. Department of State:
“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I am pleased to congratulate the people of the Czech Republic as you celebrate the 98th anniversary of your national day on October 28.
“As an American whose grandfather was born in a small town that is now Horni Benesov, I am delighted to recognize the enduring alliance between our two countries. This partnership can be seen in our joint membership in NATO and the OSCE and in our cooperative approach to a broad range of political and security issues throughout the Euro-Atlantic region and across the globe.
“Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, your nation’s founder, set a standard of support for democratic principles, respect for human rights (including women’s rights), freedom of expression, and political civility that was rare in his time and that remains a cherished aspiration in ours. As Czechs everywhere observe this special day, I hope we will all re-dedicate ourselves to Masaryk’s bold vision of a just society, where liberty thrives and truth prevails.”