Plzen’s Liberation Celebration

This town is known for Pilsener beer.  From email:

Have you ever wondered if anyone in Europe remembers America ‘s sacrifice in World War II? There is an answer in a small town in the Czech Republic . The town is called Pilsen ( Plzen ).

Every 5 years, Pilsen conducts the Liberation Celebration of the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic . May 6th, 2010, marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by General George Patton’s 3rd Army. Pilsen is the town that every American should visit. Because they love America and the American Soldier…

Even 65 years later… by the thousands,

The citizens of Pilsen came to say thank you.

Lining  the streets of Pilsen for miles –

From the large crowds,

to quiet reflective moments,

including this American family’s private time to honor and remember their American hero.

This is the crash site of Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham, the last recorded American USAAF pilot killed in Europe during WWII. It was Lt. Kirkham’s 82nd mission and one that he volunteered to go on. At the time, this 20-year-old pilot’s P-47 Thunderbolt plane was shot down, a young 14-year-old Czech girl, Zdenka Sladkova, was so moved by his sacrifice she made a vow to care for him and his memory. For 65 straight years, Zdenka, now 79-years-old, took on the responsibility to care for Virgil’s crash site and memorial near her home.

On May 4th, she was recognized by the Mayor of Zdenka’s home town of Trhanova , Czech Republic , for her sacrifice and extraordinary effort to honor this American hero.

Another chapter in this important story… the Czech people are teaching their children about  America’s sacrifice for their freedom.

American Soldiers, young and old, are the ”Rock Stars” these children and their parents want autographs from.

Yes, Rock Stars! As they patiently waited for his autograph, the respect this little Czech boy and his father have for our troops serving today was heartwarming and inspirational.

The Brian LaViolette Foundation established The Scholarship of Honor in tribute to General George S. Patton and the American Soldier, past and present.

Each year, a different military hero will be honored in tribute to General Patton’s memory and their mission to liberate Europe . This award will be presented to a graduating senior who will be entering the military or a form of community service such as fireman, policeman, teaching or nursing — a cause greater than self. The student will be from 1 of the 5 high schools in Pilsen , Czech Republic .

The first award will be presented in May 2011 in honor of Lt. Virgil Kirkham, that young 20-year-old P-47 pilot killed 65 years ago in the final days of WWII.

Presenting Virgil’s award will be someone who knows the true meaning of service and sacrifice… someone who looks a lot like Virgil. Marion Kirkham, Virgil’s brother, who himself served during WWII in the United States Army Air Corps!!!

In closing… Here is what the city of Pilsen thinks of General Patton’s grandson. George Patton Waters (another Rock Star!) we’re proud to say, serves on Brian’s Foundation board.

And it’s front page news over there… not buried in the middle of the social section.

Brigadier General Miroslav Zizka – 1st Deputy Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defense, Czech Armed Forces.

Notice the flags?  Every American should hear this story!

…there is a little more to this story that is also significant:

From Wikipedia:

After seizing power in 1948, the Communists undertook a systematic campaign to suppress all acknowledgement of the U.S. Army’s role in liberating the city and Western Bohemia. This continued until 1989 when the Communists were removed from power. Since 1990, the city of Plze? has organized the annual Liberation Festival, taking place in May, which has already become a local tradition, and has been attended by many American and Allied veterans.

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7 Responses to Plzen’s Liberation Celebration

  1. Rex Darrow says:

    My father, Richard L. Darrow, (now deseased) served in the 16th Armored Division of Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army. He was part of the liberation of Pilzen in WW II. The recognition made by the townspeople is beyond words. Thank you!

  2. Dianne Esplin says:

    Amazing. My nephew is an American living in Plzen, and is looking forward to the celebration this May. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. George Thompson says:

    Why didn’t you make yourself known to me. I was the “Poster soldier” this year on all the posters around town.
    I have been there eight times and it never fails to amaze me that they truely do still remember “The Boys”

  4. Brian says:

    Hi George, I’m glad you found my post. I received it in an email, and I have no idea where it originated from. Good to hear your personal story, and honored to have you comment here!

  5. Joe Kerley says:

    My Dad was 1st Lt., promoted to Capt. (after Pilzen) William (Bill) Kerley, armored infantery. He was from Mississippi and went to several reunions. He passed away in 2001. The liberation of Pilzen was one of his proudest memories. He loved the men of his company and received letters from some of them returning that emotion. Every year on Veterans day, Memorial Day and the 4th of July I raise a bottle of Pilzen beer in his honor, and the honor of those he served with. Though I am 61 years old now I still hope and plan to go there to honor all of you who served there and those who were liberated by you. He received in the mail a Bronze Star about a year before he passded away for his service. He opened the box up, looked at it for a minute, and then said “that is nice” but that he didn’t deserve it as so many others really did. Thank you for your sacrifices with my Dad. Honored to be his son, Joe

  6. Pingback: Plzeň Liberation Day | Fearless Dream

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