When the members of a rock band called The Plastic People of the Universe were arrested in Communist Czechoslovakia in 1976, playwright Vaclav Havel issued his call to “live in truth” and led other intellectuals in a protest against the government action. His leadership led to Charter 77, the most important act of dissent against the Communist regime and resulted in his incarceration for several years. With his essay entitled “The Power of the Powerless,” his plays, and his dissident actions, Havel became a worldwide symbol for freedom, democracy and human rights. When the Velvet Revolution caused the fall of the regime in 1989, Havel became president of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic. On November 19, 2014, the United States of America recognized Havel’s historic accomplishments by placing a bust of Havel in the Freedom Foyer of the U.S. Capitol.
In this concluding event of Prague Days Chicago, another sculpture honoring Havel will be dedicated in Chicago. The sculpture will join two other major sculptures in Chicago that honor Czech leaders – the equine statue on the campus of the University of Chicago of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who founded the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, and the huge statue on Chicago’s Museum Campus of Karel Havlíček, the journalist writer, and freedom fighter of the 19th century.
Havel used the heart as his personal symbol. After his death in 2011, thousands of Czechs lit candles in public places to honor the fallen hero. Sculptors Lukáš Gavlovský and Roman Švejda constructed a giant heart from those candles. They also made a smaller heart that the City of Prague is presenting to the City of Chicago. Just as the large sculpture in the Czech Republic, this “Heart For Václav Havel” will travel in Chicago to Universities and other public places to tell its story and the story of Václav Havel. The journey of the heart will begin at the Chicago City Hall where it will be unveiled by Mayors of Prague and Chicago and remain on display for two months through August 28, 2015.
To learn more about Prague Days Chicago and its events, visit www.PragueDaysChicago.com.