Dear Václav,

I hope you are still resting in peace even as the world seems to be circling the drain. A lot has happened in the five years since you left. But I’m not here to gossip.

Before I tell you why I am writing, I should introduce myself. We never met, and you don’t know me in more than an abstract way, as a fellow former compatriot. For 934 short days you were the President of my country—our country—which, of course, no longer exists. A teenager, shy like you, I watched you steer Czechoslovakia through the transition to democracy and hoped to someday do great deeds myself.

I admit, I was mad at you for not doing more to preserve our country. Yet even after Czechoslovakia split like a loaf of bread torn apart by greedy brothers, you continued to inspire me, even if I didn’t care to admit it until much, much later. You did your best to stay above the political fray, you upheld the values you stood for, and you kept speaking out about things that mattered for the sake of humanity. Philosopher President, they called you.

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