ganization independent of a similar body in the United States, is centering its efforts on the enlistment of the remaining eligible members of this race.
The lesson of Canada for Bohemians in the United States and above all for those who are not naturalized, is evident. If war comes, it will not do to talk about the hate of Czechs for Austrian tyranny. When the President calls for volunteers, those of the Czech race, citizens or aliens, must respond promptly.
FROM FAR-OFF RUSSIA
During the retreat of the Russian army from the Carpathians in the spring of 1915 Lieutenant-General Kornilov, commanding the rear guard, was captured and interned in Bohemia. In the summer of 1916 he managed to escape with the help of a Bohemian, Frank Mrnak. For several weeks the two fugitives were making their way stealthily toward the Roumanian frontier, hiding by day and traveling at night. But one day in August they were surprised by gendarmes; the general got away and finally reached Russia, where he now commands an army corps. Mrnak was hit and captured, and later sentenced by the court martial in Pressburg to be shot.
It had been the Bohemian soldiers’s intention to enter as a volunteer into the ranks of the Czecho-Slovak brigade which has by this time grown into two divisions. That his name and his heroic deed should not be forgotten, the commander of the brigade issued an order to have Mrnak’s name inscribed first on the roll of Company A of the first regiment of the Czecho-Slovak brigade of sharp shooters. At every roll-call, when Mrnak’s name is called, the sergeant of the first squad shall answer: “Shot by Hungarian court martial in Pressburg for saving General Kornilov.”
SOKOLS TO FIGHT FOR AMERICA
The newly organized Sokol Union of America, numbering nearly twelve thousand athletes, has issued a call to its entire membership urging them to volunteer for service in the army in case of war with Germany. The call is signed by John Siman, national president of the organization, and by a military committee of five members, of which Jarka Kosar is chairman. It says: “We stand behind our president and offer him our bodies in defense of the noble principles and rights of the United States. The Bohemian people have poured out much blood in days past in the interests of humanity and liberty. In French, English and Russian legions Bohemians, principally Sokols, fight today for the rights of oppressed nations and in defense of their adopted countries. We, Czechs of America, have foresworn subjection to the unjust and tyrannical government of Austria and proudly received the boon of citizenship in this great, free republic. To this country we are bound by holy ties of civic duties, and for it we are ready to sacrifice our fortunes and our lives.
“All true brothers of our great Sokol Union are called upon to fill out the enclosed enrollment cards as volunteers for the ‘Sokol Legion’. Local societies are asked to forward the enrollments to the nearest district office in one of the following cities: New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Ia., Omaha, St. Louis, Dallas, San Francisco, Portland, Ore. These stations again are directed to report promptly to the military committee at Chicago.”
This call of the national officers has been sent together with enrollment blanks to 110 local organizations. It has also been published in all the Bohemian papers in this country, since it is the intention of the organizers to accept physically fit men other than members of the Sokol Union. Bohemian physicians have been provided to subject each volunteer to a strict examination. The age limit for the present has been made 18 to 35 years. A large proportion of the Bohemian Sokols (falcons) have served in European armies, and the Sokol Legion would be ready for service in less time than other volunteer formations.
JOHN SIMAN DEAD.
A few days after issuing the above call to the Bohemian Sokols John Siman, president of the Sokol Union of America and Clerk of the City of Chicago, died of pneumonia February 28, 1917. The day before, while he was unconscious, Republican voters of Chicago made him again their candidate for City Clerk.
John Siman was born in Chicago of Bohemian parents in 1870. He was as good an American as any descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers and in his public life he fought consistently for good government. As City Clerk in Chicago, to which position he was elected by the biggest majority ever given to any candidate, he made an enviable record in economy and efficiency. At the same time he always took a lively interest in the life of his people on the West Side of Chicago, and his character and ability secured him the highest honors in the gift of his country-men. Although he had never seen the land of his ancestors, he heartily approved the movement carried on since the war began for the liberation of Bohemia from the Hapsburg yoke.
Siman’s life exemplifies clearly the fact that a sturdy American patriotism need not conflict with a warm affection for the ancestral land in Europe.
Bohemians in Chicago have suffered a real loss in the death of John Siman.
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Emperor Karl says that Austria and Germany are one. It is easy to guess, which one.
If you have subscribed, the wrapper will read Jan. ’18.
Bohemian soldiers fight on the side of the Allies in France, Russia, Roumania and Macedonia.