History defines us, showing us for what we are now. The Normandy landings which started the process of liberation of Europe by Allies at the end of the 2nd World War is one of the milestones in history carrying special importance for the Czech nation. What started with a so-called “D-Day” taking place on June 6, 1944 on Normandy beaches ended almost a year later by a triumphal entry into Pilsen, the Czech Republic on May 6, 1945. This day is therefore aptly called "The V-Day”, symbolizing the celebrated victory of the Allied armies over Wehrmacht troops along with the interconnection of countries that received their freedom: France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Every May, Pilsen fills with US veterans, their families and local inhabitants in order to enliven the festivities with period uniforms, military equipment, and especially with the help of memories. In 2009, this event became a part of a unique international project "From D-Day to V-Day” which aims to connect the happenings in Normandy with the journey through Europe that ended in this city of beer in West Bohemia.
The Liberation Festival that takes place in Pilsen every year offers a combination of regular commemorative events with new ones that ensure a touch of surprise. One of those falling into the first group is a festive Convoy of Liberty, which provides a parade of historic vehicles in their full glory to all the onlookers. Commemoration services at war memorials represent another tradition of this kind. The other part of agenda is provided by military history clubs that allow viewers to experience twists in history in new, original ways. They make use of various types of weapons and techniques, applying them immediately in the context of military operations in front of the spectators’ eyes.
The year 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by Americans and, as usual, the whole event took pride in a large attendance. The program was underway in several places throughout the city: the park behind the Plaza shopping center was turned into a temporary home for a period camp of the US Army. Civilians in outfits from May 1945 were strolling among the tents and the vehicles. In Křižíkovy Sady, visitors participated in a fashion workshop which was accompanied by jazz and swing tunes. The convoy could be observed on its route passing through Sukova Street and Sady Pětatřicátníků. The latter was a scene of unveiling of the monument to General George S. Patton who led the operation at the end of WW2. The Republic Square was the place where a part of the convoy ended its route. Together with the fans who followed it there, the participants enjoyed the sight of whizzing US military aircrafts flying over their heads.