Pilsen Experience-in the words of Mark Leland

If you need a shot in the arm of patriotism, or an extra dose of pride for our American veterans, you might need to head out of the country to Pilsen in the Czech Republic. That's where I went in early May 2013 to document the European city's Liberation Festival honoring our World War II soldiers, who helped give the people of Pilsen their freedom in 1945.

Every person I met during the four-day festival was filled with gratitude for our American veterans. And not just the people who were around in '45, but the message has been passed down through the generations. These guys are heroes. This city really knows how to give thanks, and they remain thankful to this day to our U.S. soldiers. Keep in mind Communist control took over in 1948 and would last just over 40 years, but the people of Pilsen never forgot the service and sacrifice of our WWII veterans.

So in 1990 the annual Liberation Festival got started and is still going strong today. There is even a permanent "Thank you America" monument in the city where an American flag always flies.

I was amazed and impressed with the love shown by the people of Pilsen. And talking to our veterans, they are humbled every time they return to the festival--and many have made the trip back year after year because of the people. Imagine ten thousand or more people lining city streets for a parade featuring our World War II veterans riding in World War II Jeeps. It is a true sign of patriotism, of honor, of respect for our American veterans--and it's coming from another country.

I know we celebrate our veterans on Veteran's Day, the 4th of July and other occasions, but I've never witnessed a celebration like the one Pilsen put on. Bob Nueske, a veteran, businessman and someone I'd like to a call a friend, discovered this out of the way Liberation Festival several years ago. Bob invited me to go to Pilsen and paid for the news crew to travel to Pilsen, because he wanted others to discover what is happening over there.

He also helps to fund the General George S.Patton Scholarship of Honor from the Brian LaViolette Foundation in Pilsen started last year. It's a way to give back to the next generation in Pilsen, and the city is so appreciative that the awarding of the scholarship has become a part of the celebration. I can tell you how moving the festival is and you might get some idea of what I'm talking about.

Hopefully our news stories will better show you what you're missing. So I hope you'll check out the "Return to Pilsen" stories on fox11online.com, and then pack your bags and head to Pilsen--the celebration is always in early May.