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LTE – Janet Scepurek – 6-11-2014

To the Editor:

I just finished reading a book from the Public Library called Journey For Freedom, by Peter Vodenka. It is the true story of a family’s escape from communist Czechoslovakia in 1983. They decided to risk it all (which would include the parents being sent to jail and the kids being taken away from them) for the chance to escape the oppressive government.


They secretly planned, over a ten-year period, how they would escape. They had to get permission from the government to go on a camping trip. At each country’s border they crossed, they had to pass inspection. They had to run through the woods on a rainy night while being chased by border guards, in order to get to Austria and freedom. The book tells how they were helped to get a flight to America. A church group in North Dakota had two old widows of Czech descent who wanted to sponsor a family.

At first Peter worked on a couple of farms. He already was a plumber and got his license here. They immigrated legally and were able to apply for citizenship.

It is interesting that even in Communist countries, where the media is controlled, the citizens were aware that America was a beacon of freedom and hope to the world. On the last page, Peter tells about going to a rodeo in St. Paul, where his coworker noticed that Peter and his family were paying respect to the American flag during the national anthem, and other Americans did not have the courtesy to show respect. Peter told his coworker that they had risked their lives for the privilege of calling the American flag their flag.

I looked on the website, Peter speaks to groups. He will be in Amery on June 14 at the Northern Lakes Center for the Arts, and also at the Balsam Lake Public Library on June 17.

There are nine copies of the book available to be checked out through the Public Library. You may ask the library staff if you need help requesting one to borrow.

Janet Scepurek