I still remember that morning in August 1968 when my grandfather, a survivor of two World Wars, showed up early in the morning with a wheel barrel full of flour and non-perishable food and said,”The war is starting!” We were vacationing in Krkonoše mountains at our family summer house that week. When my grandfather heard the occupational military planes crossing the mountains all night he did not hesitate and walked miles at night to the nearest store and bought everything they had. The impact on my family was enormous. Already the victims of 1948 communist coup, we lost the hope The Prague Spring gave our family, my young parents, an aspiring historian of art (my father) and a technician in an industrial company (my mother), my grandfather who hoped he would be rehabilitated for the loss of 1948. The worst to come was the loss of freedom for the long twenty-one years that clouded even part of my own adulthood. Twenty-one long years we were deprived the basic right to govern ourselves, twenty-one long years characters of citizens were being broken bit by bit everyday at work and at school. As a Green mayor in the largest borough in Prague I am trying to stand against all the bigotry and cowardice that led to a near-destruction of my country. I am glad that we now stand tall among European nations and it is only upon us, Czechs and Europeans, to decide our future.
Petr Štěpánek is a scientist. He is currently serving as a Mayor of Prague 4 District and a Chairman of the Green Party in the Czech Republic.