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The Accidental Hero
The Accidental Hero

Sun, Nov 10

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Pine Plains

The Accidental Hero

The Accidental Hero is a multi-media one-man show about a WWII American officer who miraculously liberates the Czech villages of his grandparents. Matt Konop had left the farm in Wisconsin to pursue his dreams and ended up discovering his identity.

Time & Location

Nov 10, 2024, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Pine Plains, 2950 Church St, Pine Plains, NY 12567, USA

About The Event

The Accidental Hero is a multi-media one-man show about Lieutenant Colonel Matt Konop, a WWII American officer who miraculously liberates the Czech villages of his grandparents. It's a true story written and performed by his grandson, Patrick Dewane.

Patrick's grandfather refused to talk about his service in the war. When he died, his basement yielded a treasure trove of typewritten accounts, photos, and rare film footage.

Dewane brings this archival material to glowing life as an enthralling, humorous and heartwarming tale of miraculous escapes and astonishing coincidences. This touching show runs from belly laughs to tears. Dewane takes on a dozen different roles as he powerfully recounts his grandfather's journey from Omaha Beach, the Battle of the Bulge, and the end of WWII. In the last week of the war, Konop's story turns away from a soldier's survival tale to something from mythology. He discovers his lost identity and is embraced by the tribe he never knew in an epic homecoming. As he freed the Czechs, he too, was liberated.

Audiences across the US and the Czech Republic have thrilled to this remarkable, uplifting story from The Greatest Generation. Konop's grandparents had left the Old Country in the 1860s to chase the American Dream. Konop was raised with their language, Czech, but expected to "become American." To get ahead, he needed to discard the old ways and his first language. Dropped into WWII, his fluency in Czech got him the dangerous assignment of commanding the Advance Party to liberate Czechoslovakia. And once at the Czech border, his curiosity drew him into the country of his grandparents, well ahead of the rest of his division. What he found changed his life. The Czechs couldn't believe the miracle of "being liberated by one of our own." He couldn't believe the hero's welcome that greeted him. It deeply changed his notion of what it meant to be both Czech and American.

However, like many of his generation Matt Konop didn't talk about the war when he returned. His story vanished with passing time. Back in Czechoslovakia, the Communist coup of 1948 brought an ugly, repressive regime that would last the rest of Konop's life. Moscow also whitewashed history, eliminating the fact the US Army had liberated Southwestern Czechoslovakia. So while Konop's story faded in America, it was illegal to tell it in Czechoslovakia. When Konop died in 1983 his family knew little of his heroics, and the Czechs were forbidden to talk about it. At Konop's funeral, there was no American flag on the casket, no bugler playing taps at the grave. It seemed his war stories were buried with him.

Twenty years after his death, his long-forgotten writings were discovered in a family basement. Along with his war manuscript were reels of color and black and white film he shot during the war on a Kodak 8mm handheld camera (see his left hand in the photo above). Konop's grandson, Patrick Dewane, became obsessed with what was found and turned the story, film footage and period music into The Accidental Hero, a 90-minute one-man show.

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