by Kelly Johnson
Veterans were honored at a memorial celebration Sunday, May 20 in Nowthen.
The event, held at Nowthen Alliance Church, recognized Nowthen veterans dating back to the Civil War through the present.
It also featured a tribute to Marvin Thomazin, a Nowthen resident who earned accolades for his service but rarely shared the accomplishments with those who knew him.
“I knew him for 25 years, but I didn’t know this about him,” said Dennis Berg, who presented the tribute to Thomazin.
“He was indeed one of our few heroes,” Berg said.
Guest speaker at the memorial celebration was Peter Vodenka, who shared his family’s story of their defection from Communist Czechoslovakia in 1983.
Vodenka shared details about living life under Communist rule, about planning the defection and about crossing the border into freedom.
He describes waiting to carry out the plan as “the longest night you can imagine.”
After running with his wife and two small children across the border and discovering they were safe in Austria, Vodenka said, “our spirits were just flying.”
“We left everyone we loved behind for freedom,” he said.
Vodenka encouraged those gathered in Nowthen to be aware of their freedoms and about the need to protect that freedom, especially in light of how quickly a government can take that freedom away.
“Freedom is very important to us,” he said.