In the historic premises of Klas Restaurant at 5734 West Cermak Road the film was viewed with a good Czech beer. The whole area is actually a museum with lots of collected items and period furniture. (Czechoslovak Heritage Museum). One could feel the breath of the 30’s, days when a large community of Czechs and Slovaks lived in Chicago. Even the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak was of a Czech origin. The screening attended representatives of American war veterans, Czechs and Slovaks from Masaryk Czech school, film workers, Susan Marcinkus, producer and director of Slovak origin, etc.
In the Flood Museum in Johnstown due to a great interest there were two projections, one after another, followed by a discussion with the audience after each screening. Most of the audience consisted of descendants of Slovak emigrants. The youngest participant was particularly interested in Slovak National Uprising and kept asking us questions. It was a humorous moment when his parents tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t give up and continued with questions. We were amazed by his knowledge of Slovak history.
The event was held under the patronage of Mr. Robert J. Eyer, director of Wessel Company, Mr. Richard Burkert, director of Johnstown Area Heritage Association and Mr. Daniel Kisha Slovak Import Company.
In Youngstown the director gave a 30-minute live interview to Clear Channel radio editor John P. Brown III in a specialized broadcast for veterans. After broadcasting he told us: “It was very interesting and informative.” And we realized how much do Americans appreciate their veterans; they even have their own radio program. This cannot happen in Slovakia. Our indifference is chilling.
In cooperation with the Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley and The Slavic Student Association at Youngstown State University, an exhibition titled Unidentified Heroes / The Final Mission was held in the The First Presbyterian Church’s Community Room, with the film being screened there simultaneously.
Panels with photographs of American airmen and Slovak rescuers were placed around the walls in the cinema and were viewed with a great interest by the audience before, but also after the film. There was a very warm atmosphere at the meeting with endless number of questions mainly concerning the film production and the Slovakia-US relations. We found out that people in Youngstown have retained many customs of their ancestors, and are interested in what is happening in the country their parents and grandparents came from.
For the movie creators the whole event had a touching sequel. We became honorary members of the Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley.
A big Thank you belongs to Ms. Lorette Ekoniak, the President of this association, thanks to whom the event was a success, and we had the opportunity to meet those wonderful and caring people. They showed us their gratitude for visiting them in a city so far removed from the American cultural centers.
In cooperation with the General Consulate of the Slovak Republic in New York and the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences the screening of the film was held in the Bohemian National Hall on East 73rd street. The documentary met with
a great interest by the Slovaks and Czechs living in New York. After the screening a long discussion followed with the film director and the producer, and many persistent viewers continued with an informal conv
ersation after that. They didn’t ask only about personal stories of the American airmen and the Slovaks, their relationships, but were also curiou
s about how does Slovakia cope with its dark past of a sate
llite of Nazi Germany.