Nebraska has strong ties to the Czech Republic.
They might be getting stronger.
Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Adjutant General Daryl Bohac welcomed Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek to the state and during a news conference at the Capitol, announced the appointment of an Honorary Consulate for Nebraska.
Nebraska has 83,000 residents who have Czech heritage. The state has the largest percentage of its population with family ties to the Czech Republic.
Ambassador Kmonicek acknowledged the close ties between his country and the state, but added new experiences can be combined with the rich Czech history in Nebraska.
“Here we feel that we have historical ties, but we do need to give them something detailed, concrete, new content,” Kmonicek told reporters during the news conference.
Kmonicek said he expects the naming of an honorary consulate and other moves will prompt more residents of the Czech Republic to visit Nebraska in the future.
“And, of course, we are still happy to receive people who are looking for their relatives back in the Czech Republic and being surprised when they find them,” Kmonicek stated.
University of Nebraska – Lincoln Czech and Russian studies professor Mila Saskova-Pierce has been named the first Honorary Czech Consulate for Nebraska.
“As a teacher of Czech, I will also offer any opportunity and or support for people who are in need of assistance,” Saskova-Pierce stated, adding she would use her expertise in the Czech language to help.
Sackova-Pierce said in the past many attended her classes so they could relate to their Czech relatives.
“Now it’s rather the intellectual, economic, cultural exchange that attracts the students into the Czech program,” Sackova-Pierce stated, giving a nod to the growing economic status of the Czech Republic in central Europe.
Sackova-Pierce is now one of 24 Honorary Czech Consulates in the United States.
Kmonicek spent Monday morning Maj. Gen. Bohac and members of the Nebraska National Guard, discussing the current state of the Guard’s State Partnership Program relationship with the Czech Republic Armed Forces, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in July 2018.
Bohac had a personal interest in the visit. His family traces its heritage back to the Czech Republic.