After blast, Czech Republic makes donation to West, Texas

April 23, 2013 at 10:17 PM
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BRUSSELS, April 23 (UPI) -- The Czech foreign minister said while on a trip to Brussels his country will donate $200,000 to West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant explosion killed 15.

Karel Schwarzenberg, the foreign minister, made the announcement in Brussels Tuesday, saying most of the money will be used to rebuild the Sokol building in the town, Radio Prague reported.

Three-quarters of the inhabitants of West, Texas, are of Czech descent.

Sokol is a gymnastic society founded in 1862 to promote Czech culture and social life.

At the time of the Sokol founding, Bohemia and Moravia were part of the Austrian Empire and Czech culture struggling to stay alive under the government in Vienna. The Czech language was barred from publishing, theaters and city streets.

Due to its ideals, Sokol was banned several times -- first under the Habsburgs, then during the Nazi occupation and again for 40 years under communism.

The American Sokol Organization was founded in St. Louis in 1865.

Petr Gandalovic, the Czech ambassador in Washington, visited the injured from the blast last week with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Gandalovic said he met with members of the local Czech-American community in West to personally express his condolences and assure them their fate is deep in the hearts of the Czech Republic and its citizens.

The American Friends of the Czech Republic began a fundraising campaign via its website to offer disaster relief to those affected. The Czech school of Dallas also started a donation account at Point West Bank.

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