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In memory of Alexander Dubček, Slovak statesman

THE FALL season of every year is a time to remember the life and contributions of a great Slovak leader, Alexander Dubček. This year, on November 27, this politician, statesman and symbol of the 1968 Prague Spring would have been 85 years old.

THE FALL season of every year is a time to remember the life and contributions of a great Slovak leader, Alexander Dubček. This year, on November 27, this politician, statesman and symbol of the 1968 Prague Spring would have been 85 years old.

It rarely happens that two great national figures are born in the same house, decades apart, but this is what occurred in Uhrovec on November 21, 1921, when Dubček was born in the house where another Slovak hero, Ľudovít Štúr, was born years before.

Both lost their lives in tragic accidents - Ľudovít Štúr while hunting, and Alexander Dubček in Prague on November 7, 1992 as a result of the wounds he suffered in a car crash on September 1 that year.

Many foreign politicians and statesmen consider Alexander Dubček a true Slovak patriot and a great statesman and European. His idea of a "common European home" came true in 2004 when his country became a member of the European Union.

The municipality of Uhrovec, in the Bánovce nad Bebravou district of the western Trencin region, every year holds a memorial to the birth of Štúr and Dubček. Uhrovec Mayor Zuzana Máčeková said this year that the village had carried out a project called "Alexander Dubček, Native of Uhrovec" with EU support.

The goal of the joint Slovak and Czech event was to teach young people about Alexander Dubček as a great European from tiny Uhrovec. Seminars were held and films were screened on Dubček's impact. The common Štúr and Dubček home is now under the authority of the Trenčín Museum, and in 1965 was named a national cultural monument.

Alexander Dubček, who for a brief time in 1968 and 1969 was the first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee (and thus Czechoslovak leader) before the party expelled him in 1970, was the most famous Slovak figure of the second half of the 20th century.

However, although he is valued and respected by the world, at home he is often still ignored.

Who knows what Slovak history might have looked like but for that tragic car accident in 1992.

As the 85th anniversary of his birth approached, an exhibition was opened at Bratislava Castle called "Statesman, Democrat, European". The exhibition was designed by Professor Ivan Laluha and carried out by the Slovak National Museum with the Alexander Dubček Society. Photos and texts map out Alexander Dubček's life, including Dubček's diary from 1968, his awards, and his watch that was torn off during his car accident.

In Bratislava's Horský Park there is still a bench, near the forester's house, where Dubček used to sit and talk with his friends from 1968 during the "normalization" period of the 1970s.

On November 24 and 25, furthermore, an international conference called Alexander Dubček - Famous Slovak and European, was to be opened in Bratislava by PM Robert Fico.

With these and other events, there is hope that Alexander Dubček's memory can be kept alive as an inspiration to future generations of Slovaks, both great and ordinary.

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