Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/140

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to be in Russia. At present Masaryk is there in the interest of Bohemian independence.

This almost world-wide organization is an eloquent testimonial to the idealistic and self-sacrificing spirit of the Bohemian people. It grew up spontaneously, for no law, no force, no compulsion could weld the sons and daughters of Bohemia, scattered through many lands, into this unique body and make them submit cheerfully to discipline.

The Bohemian National Alliance is the pride of our people in the United States. Three years ago there was no such thing in existence; today it has over 200 branches and some 120,000 members who contribute directly or indirectly toward its high aims. What are the aims of the Bohemian National Alliance? In the earlier period of the war, before the United States declared war upon Germany, the big task of the Alliance was to furnish money for the political, diplomatic and journalistic activity of the Paris National Council. But even then the Alliance endeavored to inform the people of the United States of our aspirations and our difficult struggle. But after President Wilson made his memorable address to the Congress and after our country as a result of it joined the European Allies in their fight on German aggression, the Bohemian National Alliance of America was faced with new tasks of the very greatest importance: to convince the official and political circles of the United States that Bohemia is entitled by every rule of justice to become an independent state, and that it is in the interest of America and its Allies to grant this demand.

In our constitution we expressed the aims of the Alliance as follows: “The Bohemian National Alliance works with all honorable means for the liberation of the Bohemian lands and the Hungarian Slovakland. It collects a fund which is to be employed so as to give to our suffering people the most effective assistance. It is now and will remain the political center of the Czechoslovak immigrants in the United States.”

When I left the old country, one of the leaders of Bohemia impressed upon me this message: “Tell our friends beyond the sea that we ask them to finance our action. Here we are allowed to give millions for the orphans, but not one cent for our nation’s liberation. We rely on Bohemians in America.” America did not disappoint these hopes. And I am sure that as soon as the treaty of peace is signed, the Bohemian National Alliance will employ all its great strength to give substantial relief to the widows and orphans of Bohemia.

In any case, whatever may be the outcome of our fight for independence, our organization intends to remain the center of the Bohemian-speaking people in the United States. If our fight is not crowned with success, we are going to keep up our opposition to Austria. As Masaryk said in Petrograd: “I can say this much now that in any event we shall be better off at home, not worse. Because we showed our teeth. Should the worst come to pass, I believe that our organization in foreign lands will be preserved. We shall have to keep the Bohemian question continually before the international forum so that the radical movement at home might have a support abroad. When I say radical, I mean against Austria-Hungary, against the Habsburgs”. Nevertheless, our hope is firm, and so is Masaryk’s, that our work and our sacrifices will not be in vain.

The Bohemian National Alliance will have a great influence upon our people in America. As soon as our great task will be over upon the conclusion of a just peace, this great organization will serve as the cultural center of Bohemians in the United States. Our first care will be the schools for the teaching of Bohemian, and we shall endeavor to have the study of Bohemian introduced into the curriculum of high schools and universities. Care of the immigrant, during his first difficult days in the new country will be our special task. Lectures will be given and our remote settlers, as well as our large colonies in the large cities, will be kept in touch with the best there is in the spirit of American democracy. We shall also keep up economic relations with Bohemia and try to establish profitable commercial relations between our old country and our new home.

Today branches of the Bohemian National Alliance are found in almost every state of the Union and every province of Canada. They are gathered into twelve districts: New York, Bridgeport, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Paul, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Texas, San Francisco, and Winnipeg. The district committees are subject to the directions of the Central Committee at Chicago. This committee is composed of the representatives of the district committees and of delegates