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Candice M.
Republican MI 10

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  • Honoring the Life and Legacy of Vaclav Havel

    by Representative Candice S. Miller

    Posted on 2014-03-11

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    MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 506) honoring the life and legacy of Vaclav Havel by directing the House of Representatives Fine Arts Board to provide for the display of a bust of Vaclav Havel in the United States Capitol.



    The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

    The text of the resolution is as follows: H. Res. 506 Whereas Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, passed away on December 18, 2011, at 75 years of age, at his country home in Hradecek in the Czech Republic; Whereas Vaclav Havel is widely recognized and respected throughout the world as a defender of democratic principles and human rights; Whereas through his extensive writings, Vaclav Havel courageously challenged the ideology and legitimacy of the authoritarian communist regimes that ruled Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War; Whereas Vaclav Havel, who was imprisoned multiple times by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia for his advocacy of universal human rights and democratic principles, maintained his convictions in the face of repression; Whereas Vaclav Havel was one of the founders of Charter 77, a group of 242 individuals who called for the human rights guaranteed under the 1975 Helsinki accords to be realized in Czechoslovakia; Whereas Vaclav Havel was a cofounder of the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted, an organization dedicated to supporting dissidents and their families which helped to advance the cause of freedom and justice in Czechoslovakia; Whereas Vaclav Havel, as leader of the Civic Forum movement, was a key figure in the 1989 ``Velvet Revolution'', the peaceful overthrow of the Czechoslovakia communist government; Whereas, on February 21, 1990, Vaclav Havel addressed a Joint Session of Congress where he stated, ``Thomas Jefferson wrote that `governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed'. It was a simple and important act of the human spirit. What gave meaning to that act, however, was that the author backed it up with his life. It was not just his words but it was his deeds as well.''; Whereas following the Velvet Revolution, Vaclav Havel was democratically elected as President of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic in 1990, and after a peaceful partition forming 2 separate states, democratically elected President of the Czech Republic in 1993; Whereas under the leadership of Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic became a prosperous, democratic country and a respected member of the international community; Whereas also under his leadership the Czech Republic became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on March 12, 1999, and continues to be a valued ally of the United States; Whereas during his lifetime, Vaclav Havel received praise as one of the world's great democratic leaders and was awarded many international prizes recognizing his commitment to peace and democratic principles; Whereas, on July 23, 2003, President George W. Bush honored Vaclav Havel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States Government, for being ``one of liberty's great heroes''; [[Page H2267]] Whereas after leaving office as president of the Czech Republic in February 2003, Vaclav Havel remained a voice on behalf of democratic dissidents worldwide and against authoritarian regimes; and Whereas the legacy of Vaclav Havel inspires those that advocate and work for freedom from tyranny: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That to honor the life and legacy of Vaclav Havel, the House of Representatives Fine Arts Board shall provide for the display of an appropriate bust of Vaclav Havel in the House of Representatives wing of the United States Capitol.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran) each will control 20 minutes.

    The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Michigan.

    General Leave Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks on the House resolution.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Michigan? There was no objection.

    Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

    I rise in support of H. Res. 506, directing the House Fine Arts Board to place a bust of Vaclav Havel in the United States Capitol, which will serve as an honor of his exemplary life and legacy.

    Vaclav Havel was a man of many talents and contributions to the world. He was a Czechoslovakian playwright, essayist, and poet.

    Born and raised in Prague, during his formative years, Havel and his family were among the countless who fell under oppression when the Communists came to power and confiscated all their property; yet, still, he carried on, finding his way professionally working in the arts, but he knew he had more to give.

    Havel's contributions to society are without measure. Havel used his gifts of the written word to rally his countrymen behind the true meanings of freedom and the need for the human spirit to break free from the clutches of the communist empire.

    Within his well-known essay, ``The Power of the Powerless,'' he insightfully pointed out how citizens under communist regimes were forced to ``live within a lie.'' He stood as someone who would not be oppressed and served as a lead negotiator, actually, in what would be the end of more than four decades of communist rule.

    Many remember him for his instrumental role in the Velvet Revolution, where he became a dominant figure in the final push for a democratic government.

    Havel fought for his home, Czechoslovakia, with words and with ideas, and he aided the fight for the oppressed, and he won. Havel became a leader when his countrymen and women needed him the most.

    He was so respected by his peers in Czechoslovakia that he was chosen to lead postcommunist Czechoslovakia first as an interim President and then was voted unanimously to become President of Czechoslovakia in December of 1989 by its Parliament.

    {time} 1545 In today's environment, it is somewhat awe inspiring that he was so respected that he was unanimously elected to President. You don't find that too often these days.

    Six months later, Havel was elected as President at a popular election in July of 1990; and through his leadership and influence, Mr. Havel helped guide states from underneath the Soviet regime to their place in respected democracies in Europe. He helped bring down the Iron Curtain, and he aided his country's transition into a free market economy. He certainly deserves to be honored with his bust in this building that celebrates our own democracy and supports democracy, liberty, and freedom across the globe.

    So I urge my colleagues to support the resolution. I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 506, and I wish to associate myself with the words of the gentlelady from Michigan, as well.

    Vaclav Havel was an iconic defender of democracy, a protector of human rights, and an inspiration to people all over the world in their struggle to assert human rights as a universal freedom. His writings and his activism were essential in bringing democracy to a region long plagued by the authoritarianism of a Communist dictatorship.

    In 1990, Mr. Havel was elected President of the former Czechoslovakia and later, in 1993, the Czech Republic. Under Mr. Havel's administration, the Czech Republic became and remains to this day a staunch ally of the United States. After his time in elected office, Mr. Havel continued to serve as a voice for the oppressed throughout the world and a champion of freedom until his death in 2011.

    This bust of Vaclav Havel in the United States Capitol is a very fitting tribute because it is a tribute to an international leader and a man whose works helped to reshape the map of the world and the hope for freedom and human rights throughout the world.

    I urge all the Members of this body to support H. Res. 506 unanimously, and I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, at this time, it is my privilege to yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce), who is the distinguished chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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