Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Five Czech Americans Awarded: Czech Government Awards Five Czech Americans

Congratulations to Margie Sobotka, one of my colleagues on the Board of Directors for the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, who is one of five recipients of the 2007 Černín Palace Bronze Memorial Medal from the Czech Republic. This is well-deserved honor! Bravo, Margie!

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Czech Republic awarded the 2007 Černín Palace Bronze Memorial Medal to five extraordinary Czech Americans whose life’s work has helped enhance Czech-American relations. Named for the building which houses the MFA, the annual award honors those who have made significant contributions to preserving and promoting relations between the Czech Republic and the United States. Ambassador Petr Kolář presents the awards to the honorees, who are nominated by Czech honorary consuls in the United States. The 2007 recipients are Tiree and Lubomir Chmelar, Libuse Imbrone, Radomír Luža, Marvin J. Marek, and Marjorie Sobotka.

Tiree Chmelar (in memoriam) and Lubomir Chmelar helped found Czech Greenways-Zelené Stezky whose Prague-Vienna Greenways is a 250-mile long network of hiking and biking trails that travels between the two cities through historic towns in some of the most picturesque countryside in Europe. The Greenways objective is to promote and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the region while developing sustainable ecological tourism. The Chmelars modeled the Czech Greenways project on the Hudson River Valley Greenways in New York. In 1994 New York Governor Mario Cuomo declared these two greenways sisters. Tiree Chmelar and her husband were instrumental in raising funds from international organizations to develop and support the Czech Greenways program.

Libuse Rybnicek Imbrone was raised in a family of Czech immigrants who nurtured in her an appreciation of Czech language, literature, art, music, and civic affairs. Throughout her life, Ms. Imbrone has worked to promote Czech and Slovak culture in the United States. She is a long-time member of Sokol-Minnesota and a founding member of the Czech and Slovak Cultural Center in St. Paul, MN.

Marjorie Sobotka is a devoted genealogist and author of numerous publications including the book Nebraska-Kansas Settlers, 1891–1895. A board member of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, Ms. Sobotka actively works to perpetuate Czech and Slovak heritage in the United States and helps Americans find relatives or ancestry in the Czech Republic.

Radomir Luza, born in Czechoslovakia, was an active member of the anti-fascist resistance in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. The son of a Czechoslovak Army General who went into hiding, young Luza was captured by the Germans and then released in hopes that he would lead the Nazis to his father. Instead Lubomir evaded his pursuers and joined his father in the underground movement. His subsequent story of resistance, hiding, and guerilla attacks on the occupiers is told in his memoir The Hitler Kiss. Mr. Luza escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1948 and came to the United States where he is professor emeritus of history at Tulane University. His books, articles, and teaching have contributed greatly to the understanding of Czech history.

Marvin J. Marek has dedicated more than 30 years to fostering Czech heritage in Texas. In addition to serving as president of the Texas chapter of the National Alliance of Czech Catholics, Mr. Marek’s work with the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas helps promote the study of Czech music in the United States and enables Czech students to study in Texas.
To read the speech of Libuse Imbrone from the ceremony, please click here.

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