14.jpg

On Thursday 20th September, our adventurous journey named “Tracing Czech legionnaires” started. The first task was to survive a terrible trip all the way down to Italy. Fortunately, there was the air-conditioning and heating in the bus so we were fully in charge of the temperature in the bus. When we arrived to a small town of Rovereto on Friday at 8.41, there was only a little time to fight drowsiness and we were drawn into excitement and passion. Our older guide was talking in advanced German, which was great for those of us who were able to understand the others had to survive with our delegate´s rough translation.

Our first stop was a war museum. Before that we had been wandering through lovely small curved streets of the town. In the museum we found out the differences between war conflicts before the First World War and this Big War, which changed everything, and the role of our legionnaires in that conflict, which changed history. We could see the uniforms, e.g. French or German and of course the Czech one as well. With an excellent talk and guiding of Mr. Karas, we were told that the uniform doesn´t completely meet the historic reality and because Mr. Karas is great at describing things he explained us and showed us how the real uniform looked like. After this sad but truthful visit, we had an excellent Italian ice cream and set off to see waterfalls and meditation gardens in Verona. Listening to meditation music and watching falling water heighted our spirits, at least little bit. Then we moved to a camping at Lago di Garda where we listened to greatly prepared lecture about fights and successes of our legionnaires.

The second day started with honour ceremony which we paid to our fallen legionnaires such as Antonín Štorch, Leopold Jeřábek and many others. In the afternoon we decided to climb up the peak Doss Alto (we were lifted almost to the top of it). On the top we held a minute of silence to honour the legionnaires and we were given a beautiful commemorative coin. The dinner with a regional country president Josef Bernard was like the cherry on the top of the cake. After the dinner we went to our accommodation looking forward to the next day.

Our third day was very demanding and full. Our first stop was Osarium di Castel Dante not far from Rovereto. We could see two walls with the names of Czech legionnaires and with excitement we were watching the act of reverence.  We could even listen to our national anthem played by a local brass orchestra - a breath-taking experience I must add. And that we saw the Bell of Fallen created from molten guns of all nations of the First World War. We also participated in the mass which was performed in front of the very new statue of St. Wenceslaus, which was followed by a lot of speeches that needed to be translated either into Czech or Italian. The last thing of our programme was another act of reverence. After all formal speeches we were thanked by Mr. Bernard for our participation for which he received thousands of “thank you” from our side. The only thing remaining was to board the bus and set of the trip home - our bodies exhausted, our minds filled with new experiences and information and our hearts full of pride – The CZECHS WERE FITHTING.

Ladislav Janík, 4. A (translated)