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Bust of Czech leader Havel unveiled in US Capitol's Statuary Hall

The bust of the late Vaclav Havel is unveiled, November 19, 2014 at the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. From left, Vaclav Havel's widow Dagmar Havlova, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John A. Boehner, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Jan Hamacek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka, Democratic Leader of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, 39th Dist. of California U.S. Representative Edward R. Royce.

RICK VASQUEZ/STARS AND STRIPES

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 20, 2014

The bust of the late Vaclav Havel, the playwright who rose to serve as the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia in 41 years, was dedicated Wednesday in Congress’ Statuary Hall.

Speaker of the House John Boehner accepted the bust on behalf of the American people, praising Havel as “a writer who exposed the communists using one weapon they could not match: the truth. …

“Offered a chance to flee to the West,” the Speaker continued, “he’d refuse, saying, ‘I’m simply a Czech bumpkin through and through.’ Treated like a hero wherever he went, he’d beg off, saying, ‘I’m simply a playwright and it’s irrelevant whether I’m a dissident.’ When one of his friends joked that one day he’d lead a revolution and become president, he responded, ‘That would be the worst thing that could happen to me.’”

Boehner noted Havel’s love of American music, and introduced the leader of the “100 percent American” ZZ Top, guitarist Billy Gibbons. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer played two brief selections, including altering the band’s hit “I Thank You” with the words, “You didn’t have to change it, but you did, but you did, but you did, and we thank you …”

The two-story National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building is built in the shape of an ancient amphitheater, and houses statues and busts of American presidents and other historic figures such as Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, ZZ Top's guitarist Billy Gibbons, played two brief selections at the unveiling of the late Vaclav Havel's bust, November 19, 2014 at the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.
RICK VASQUEZ/STARS AND STRIPES