BOSTON (CBS) -- Former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara received the honor of a lifetime over the weekend, receiving an award from the president of his native Slovakia.
President Zuzana Čaputová honored 24 people, with the international hockey star getting the Ľudovít Štúr Order.
"Hard to find a words to describe my feelings of how proud, honored and grateful I am to receive a National award," Chara posted on Instagram. "I have chills and feeling warm heart at the same time. The memories of this special ceremony will stay with me for rest of my life. Thank you so much."
A translated SME story noted that Chara received the award "for extraordinary merits in the field of sports and for extraordinary dissemination of the good name of the Slovak Republic abroad."
The ceremony was postponed from January, due to the pandemic -- a scheduling change which happened to allow Chara to attend the proceedings. It had been scheduled to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the country's independence from Czechoslovakia.
"We have met here to celebrate human creativity, perseverance, intellect and an unwavering spirit together," Čaputová said, per SME. "Personalities who will be honored today have fought for freedom, contributed to the birth of important democratic institutions and made sure that these institutions fulfill their meaning."
She added: "Today, we pay tribute to those who confirmed their firm place in society at many crossroads of values and influenced several generations with their attitudes to life."
Fellow NHLer Pavol Demitra, who died in the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash, posthumously received the same honor as Chara. Other winners -- per The Slovak Spectator -- included a scientist, a lawyer, a politician, a figure skating coach (in memoriam), a composer, a Jewish activist, a member of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, a psychologist, a literary scientist, a teacher who died trying to prevent an attack (in memoriam), a Hungarian activist (in memoriam), a folklorist, a writer, a musician (in memoriam), a language codifier, a palliative medicine pioneer, a psychologist, a bookshop founder, a scenographer, a journalist, an actor and a filmmaker.
The 44-year-old Chara just completed his 23rd NHL season. He captained the Bruins from 2006-20, and he represented Slovakia in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Chara was allowed to leave the Bruins early in 2014 so that he could serve as the flag bearer for Slovaki during the Opening Ceremony.
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