Czech President Milos Zeman lit a bonfire this evening in honour of the first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, who died 82 years ago, after a commemorative event at Masaryk's grave at the Lany cemetery yesterday. The bonfire was also lit by Cardinal Dominik Duka, former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) and Lany Mayor Karel Sklenicka.
Schwarzenberg said Masaryk's principles were not respected in society. He said the country had democracy but not enough democrats. He said he hoped that a new generation of democrats would grow up and "realise that freedom and democracy which Masaryk brought to the country are not taken for granted and that every generation has to fight for them."
The Masaryk bonfires were for the first time lit in municipalities all over the country in 1935 on his 85th birthday. Masaryk died in 1937. Bonfires were then lit several times, but the tradition was cancelled after the Czechoslovak communist coup in 1948 and started again only in 2001.
President Masaryk turned the castle in Lany in his countryside seat. After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, it turned into the presidential seat once again. President Zeman spends part of his time in the castle and he has official meetings there, same as his predecessors in the presidetial post, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus.
Zeman asked the crowd of people who came to see the lighting of the bonfire today to let him know if they had any ideas for improving the Lany park.
He said the pond has recently been cleaned as well as the brook along which fourteen linden trees were planted. He said he wanted to renovate the park so that it would look like it did in the times of Masaryk's gardener Ladislav Krejsa.