Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sir Nicholas Winton

Yesterday the Czech President awarded Sir Nicholas Winton with the Order of the White Lion (Class I) at a special ceremony at Prague Castle.  He is 105 years old and the Czechs sent a special plane to bring him to the ceremony.

In 1939
At the onset of WWII he organized the rescue of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to England.  The British press have dubbed him the "British Schindler".  Including the offspring of those 669 children, around 6,000 people owe him their lives.

What's commendable is that he never sought out recognition for his heroic deed.  He never talked about it until his wife found an old scrapbook in the attic many years later.  He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

In 2009, to mark the 70th anniversary of the rescue, a statue was unveiled on platform 1 at the Prague main train station.  The 669 children were the lucky ones.  A total of 15,131 Czechoslovak children were killed in concentration camps.

1st Class Order of the White Lion
The Order of the White Lion is the highest possible honor in the Czech Republic.  It is awarded by the Czech President for outstanding services to the Czech Republic.

There are five classes of the award.  The 5th and 4th classes are awarded as crosses.  The 3rd class is worn around the neck.  The second class is worn around the neck with a chest star.  The 1st class is a sash with a badge and a star.  There is also a supreme grade which also includes a gold neck chain but that may only be awarded to Heads of State.

Here's a clip I found on YouTube about Sir Nicholas Winton.

©CBS Evening News

Update:  The Order of the White Lion isn't only state honour that he received.  In 1998, President Václav Havel awarded him the Order of Tomás Garrigue Masaryk, Fourth Class.  He had also been awarded the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence, First Class.  In 2008, the Czech government nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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