Sixteen years ago, on November 17th, 1989, students in Prague commemorated the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Czech universities by the Nazis back in 1939. On November 17th, 1939, nine students were executed. This time, back in 1989, the students were beaten up not by the Nazis but by the communists.
Together with Tuesday 9/11/2001, the dates around the Velvet Revolution are the only days in my life that I remember very clearly. On Friday evening, November 17th, 1989, the news about the student demonstration circulated among everyone who was interested in politics. The Radio Free Europe and other "anti-socialist" radio stations of course played a very important role in informing (and provoking) the public.
There were rumors that a student, namely Martin Šmíd, was killed. (Another student, Mr. Růžička, who was thought to be dead actually turned out to be Mr. Zifčák, an agent of the secret communist agency, but I never understood what this whole story was all about. As far as I can say, the story was irrelevant.) Actually many years later, we had many published debates with the very same Martin Šmíd about astrology which he believes (and I don't). At any rate, the rumor was definitely false and Martin Šmíd was not killed by the communists.
During the weekend, the actors started their strike and other professions followed quickly. The Civic Forum, a very broad political movement whose goal was to win the free elections and get rid of the communists, was established. On Monday, November 20th, we were making bets when Miloš Jakeš, nicknamed the "lonely fencepost", the ridiculous leader of the communist party at that time, would be forced to resign and when the "leading role of the communist party in the society" would be erased from the Czechoslovak constitution. It just happened that both of my guesses were spot on: 11/24 and 11/29. An interesting month followed. A lot of demonstrations, a drastic increase of freedom, a significant decrease of communists' power at many places, and so forth.
The Velvet Revolution "officially" ended when Václav Havel was elected the president of Czechoslovakia on December, 29th - a few months after he was released from the jail.
During the time of the Velvet Revolution, people were really nice to each other. Many of them had unrealistic expectations. Many left-wing people who were bitter about the communist party did not realize that they actually hated capitalism as well - something that caused a certain amount of problems later.
People were predicting the future. Some of us stated that within 15 years, we would be on the same political and economical level as the average of the EU. It seems fair to say that these predictions were essentially correct.