Steve Mason, V Corps
On June 26, 1948, a wedding was held at St. Bartholomew’s cathedral in Pilsen. It seemed as though the whole city came to see the wedding – an American soldier, who had liberated Pilsen in 1945, was marrying a young Czech woman.
Not long after Pilsen was liberated by the U.S. Army, an 18-year-old girl, named Marta, met the black-haired American, Steve. He and his brothers-in-arms lived with a grateful Czech family on Jablonského Street. Marta had burned her hand ironing and sought care from the American medics. Steve, who was then 28, was one of the medics. Marta had met Steve once before, on the sidewalk on U Bachmače Street and, like so many others, had asked him to autograph her journal. A strong relationship slowly grew between the two young people and it couldn’t be broken, even by Steve’s departure back across the ocean, where he wanted to hang up his uniform and finish college.
Meanwhile, in Pilsen, Marta became a student at Charles University and continued to write to Steve (not even hindered by the Communist coup in February 1948). When Steve finally finished his studies, he decided to propose to Marta, marry her, and bring her across the ocean. Perhaps, in order to make things at least a little bit difficult for the newlyweds, the local authorities did not give Marta a passport in the Czechoslovakia, so she had to depart for the United States on Steve’s passport. At the time, many residents of Pilsen viewed the Masons’ wedding as a form of protest against the new political regime.
Marta’s first return visit to Czechoslovakia was nine years after their wedding. By then, she and Steve already had two children. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, nothing could stop them from returning to Pilsen together. So, in 1998, a great wedding took place at St. Bartholomew’s cathedral in Pilsen – a repetition of the wedding that had taken place half a century earlier. Marta and Steve celebrated fifty years of their life together. The joining of the American and the Czech in matrimony – the love between two people from two different continents – these were the winners that day.
From book 500 hours to victory