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The rain shied away just long enough for those who gathered at Lidice Park on Sunday, June 10. Although early morning and afternoon showers pelted the area throughout the day, a sigh of relief and a brief moment of sunlight appeared over the monument for the annual Commemoration of Lidice. In its 76th year, the solemness and remembrance is just as poignant today as it was on June 10, 1942. "Lest we forget," as it states on the memorial, is the message that is continued through generations every year.
Lidice Park has been a staple locale for residents and history seekers who pass through Crest Hill. The monument was built and dedicated by Crest Hill developer, Dominic Romano, who constructed it to honor those who lost their lives in Lidice Czechoslovakia in 1942.
On the evening of June 9, 1942, the Nazis entered the village of Lidice and separated the women and children from the men and boys over the age of 15. The 173 men and boys were put in the farm buildings and the women and children were locked in a local school. At 7 a.m., June 10, the men and boys were shot by an execution squad in groups of ten. An additional 19 men, who were working during these executions, were rounded up and sent to Prague to be shot.
The women were either shot or transferred to Ravensbruk concentration camp. Those few children who were found suitable for "Germanization" were picked out and given to SS families while the others died in gas chambers. Then the entire village and landscape was ploughed flat, including churches and graveyards. In doing so, the landscape was forever changed wiping the village of the map.
If not for Crest Hill and few other cities throughout the world, the memory of Lidice would be lost in history. Crest Hill and Philips, Wisconsin are the only two commemorations standing in the United States to honor Lidice.
At this year's event, participation was once again in full force. John Pritasil, President of the Czechoslovak American Congress (CAC) greeted attendees while representatives of the American Sokol proceeded with the Posting of Colors, which included the national flags for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the United States. The United Morovian Societies Singers and Assembly sang all three national anthems, and later, several songs familiar to the Czech and Slovak natives. Vera and Adam Wilt of the CAC offered reflection and Tomas Trnka of the Czech Consulate in Chicago presented his greeting on behalf of his country. Students of the United Morovian Societies and TG Masaryk Czech Schools led by Pavlina Reichlova and Eliska Pecenkova gave solemn presentations to remember Lidice. Additionally, State Representative Natalie Manley and Mayor Ray Soliman gave words and thanks and gratitude to those who participated in and attended the event. Finally, Alderwoman Tina Oberlin, without whom this annual dedication would likely not be as successful, was recognized for giving her lifelong commitment to honoring Lidice through this commemoration.
The importance of remembering tragic events that have taken place in the past is just as relevant today as it was back then. "Lest We Forget, Truth Shall Prevail." For more information about the history of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, please click here.