The Real Rotarian

is the "Presidential Article" that appeared in the March 2002 issue of the Rotarian magazine. Richard King (RI President 2001 - 2002) was writing about the importance of commitment -- mainly the commitment of Rotarians to Rotary ideals and projects. At the end of the article he illustrated this with a story.

The story revolved around an octogenarian from the Czech Republic who had come to Rotary headquarters to fulfil a dream. The gentleman did not know if he could be considered a Real Rotarian because, in his country, Rotary had spent over 50 years under ground. During all that time, this gentleman and his surviving friends had kept Rotary alive in their hearts and minds as they met clandestinely for only minutes at a time. Skip to the Richard King article now.

Here is a brief history of Rotary in the Czech Republic from an article that appeared in the June 2005 Rotarian.

Rotarians in the Czech Republic know what it means to preservere. They have chartered and rechartered their clubs not once, not twice, but thrice during the past century. Still, their ranks remain nearly 1,000 strong. Rotary first appeared in Czechoslovakia in 1924 with the inauguration of the Rotary Club of Prague. For the next 14 years, Rotary prospered in the capital city, helping to lay groundwork throughout the country for a proud tradition that would soon have to endure a tumultuous half-century. When German forces occupied Czechoslovakia in the months leading up to WWII, Rotary clubs quickly became obsolete. But while formal meetings were nonexistent during the war, many service-minded individuals remained committed to Rotarian ideals and values.

After WWII (1945), former Rotarians were keen to revive their clubs. Rotary rebounded quickly, but could not sustain itself through the tightening government controls of the Soviets. And, in 1948, the government declared Rotary illegal and terminated 31 clubs.

For the next four decades, Rotary again remained quiet and under ground. However, in 1990, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Rotary Club of Prague was reestablished for the third time. Today the Czech Republic is home to 38 Rotary clubs.

Such commitment is hard to find. Click here to read the Richard King article.