1956 Commemoration, Congressional Reception and Awards Ceremony, 2005
11/03/2005: Update - A special thank you to all those who contributed to the event! See the list!
AHF kicked off a year of events devoted to remembering the heroes of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution at its Congressional Reception held on October. Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) were awarded the American Hungarian Federation’s Col. Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom for their “Leadership in Support of Democracy, Human Rights and Minority Rights in Central and Eastern Europe.” Col. Kovats was a founding father of the US Cavalry.
Both Congressmen are members of the Hungarian American Congressional Caucus and have supported AHF and Hungarian causes. They sponsored congressional resolutions, calling on Rumania to return illegally confiscated church properties. Congressman Lantos recently called on the Serbian government to stop the violence against Hungarians and other minorities in Vojvodina and helped secure the release of two Hungarians who had been illegally arrested and detained for representing victims of violence. The Hungarian American Congressional Caucus also played an instrumental role in having the barbed wire fence torn down this summer in the divided ethnic Hungarian village of Szemlenc on the Slovak/Ukrainian border. The village was split in two when Stalin annexed the area after WWII. A border crossing may soon be on the horizon.
The Congressmen congratulated AHF on the success of the event and praised Hungary and its people for their historic sacrifices. AHF’s Frank Koszorus, Jr., presented the awards to the Congressmen and remarked, “[The Hungarian Revolutionwas] the first major challenge to Soviet domination of the eastern half of Europe was theHungarian Revolution of 1956. As the world watched, Hungarians of all walks of life rose up, fought the occupiers against overwhelming odds, and left a chink in the Soviet empire that ultimately contributed to the events of 1989 and 1990.”
Stefan Fedor, AHF President, welcomed guests and reflected on AHF and the importance of 1956 to our community. AHF also awarded the Col. Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom for lifetime achievements to Dr. Lászlo Gutay (Nuclear Physicist, Purdue University); Dr. I. Stefan Szára (National Institutes of Health, retired Chief of NIDA); Mr. Jim McCargar (CIA, Foreign Service Officer, retired); and Mr. Stephen Sisa (Author, former editor of the Free World Review). Mr. Sisa’s son, Capt. Istvan Sisa (USN, retired), accepted the award on his father’s behalf and echoed AHF’s Vice President Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi’s call for unity as he spoke Petofi’s words, “Talpra magyar, hí a haza ! Itt az idõ, most vagy soha!” The California Hussars, in full dress, headed by Frank Bakonyi, presented the Hungarian and American Colors.
Hungarian Ambassador András Simonyi also spoke and paid tribute to the “heroes” of the Revolution. The Ambassador commended the organizers of the event and thanked AHF for “representing all of us.” Other guests included Sandor Racz, who in 1956 was the president of the Greater Hungarian Budapest Workers’ Council and was imprisoned for several years following the crushing of the Revolution; House and Senate staffers; State Department representatives; representatives from the Serbian Embassy; and members of the Central East European Coalition (Polish American, Slovak American, Baltic Amercican, and Belarus American).
The mini-documentary produced by AHF with award-winning filmmakers Imre and ZsuzsaToth was shown on a monitor throughout the event, offering a glimpse back into triumph and tragedy in the fight for freedom. The reception also featured a 1956 book display featuring the works of internationally renowned members and others such as Prof. Johanna Granville Ph.D., Prof. Beverly James, Ph.D., Dr. Bela Kiraly, Csaba Teglas, Dr. Istvan Tuba, Hugo Tischler, Gabe Kubichek, and Bela Liptak (click on their names to read their book display overview -NOTE: You will need the free Adobe Reader to open the document. Click the image to download and install it). Many of these books are available on AHF's Publications Website. Each participant received a CD of Szabolcs Magyarody's remarkable Corvinus Electronic Library, a collection of works available free online. Artist Gabriella Koszorus-Varsa displayed her masterwork depicting Col. Commandant Michael Kovats’ charge into battle.
Echoing the sentiments of AHF, Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi opened the event saying, “1956 is our inheritance. It is our present. It is our future. It is easy to glorify war, to remember the slogans and to forget the courage, the pain and the sacrifice. But we must not forget. 1956 is often referred to as a tragedy, but it is clearly not. It is a triumph. Look around the room. Each of the Freedom Fighters here today can tell a similar story, a very human story. Each came to the United States with nothing and built a better life. This is an example for all of us. But 1956 can teach us much, much more; a lesson we must learn and embody in everything we do. 1956 brought Hungarians from all walks of life and from all political persuasions together to fight for a common cause. It is that unifying force that must continue through today and into tomorrow. All Hungarian Americans must learn to focus on common ground for the benefit of our children’s children. Only in unity can we find strength. May the spirit of 1956 lead us to that unity. Most vagy Soha!”
us know if we accidentally missed your name! It was NOT intentional!
Also, all those who contributed but did not receive their complimentary
copy of the 1956 mini-documentary, please contact
Are you or your organization planning an event for the 50th Anniversary of 1956? AHF is calling on all local organizations to coordinate efforts to ensure that this important event receives national and worldwide attention.
Member organizations receive publicity on the AHF Website and eNewsletters. Importantly, AHF can serve as a central information resource for all.
All are invited to help both local organizations and AHF in its own efforts at commemorating 1956 in the Nation's Capital!
AHF needs volunteers and funds to make our bold
(You do not need to become a member to donate. The American Hungarian Federation is a tax-exempt 501c(3) organization.)
5/19/2005 - Gergely "Bajusz" Pongratz, a leader and hero of Hungary's anti-communist revolution of 1956, has died at age 73.
Pongratz suffered a heart attack on Wednesday in the southern Hungarian town of Kiskunmajsa where he lived, said Dezso Abraham, secretary general of the World Council of Hungarian 56ers revolutionary veterans group. During the revolution, Pongratz was commander of one of the key resistance groups fighting the Soviet army. [read more].--------------
12/10/2004 - JENO SZEREDAS, 90, Hungarian Freedom Fighter Federation Founder, AHF Member, and Noted Artist Dies...
Jeno Andras Szeredas, Hungarian political activist and Senator, 1956 Freedom Fighter, Founder of the Freedom Fighters Federation in the United States, poet and artist of rare talent died quietly in his sleep at his daughter's home in Connecticut on November 30. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Born in Iglo, Hungary (now Slovakia) in 1914, Mr. Szeredas was both witness to and active participant in the turmoil sweeping over Europe for the balance of the 20th century. [more]
Memorials Dedicated to 1956
"October 23, 1956, is a day that will live forever in the annals
of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph.
No other day since history began has shown more clearly the eternal unquenchability
of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds against success, whatever
the sacrifice required."- President John
Albert Camus' Stirring Letter to the World:
"The Blood of the Hungarians"
I am not one of those who wish to see the people of Hungary take up arms again in a rising certain to be crushed, under the eyes of the nations of the world, who would spare them neither applause nor pious tears, but who would go back at one to their slippers by the fireside like a football crowd on a Sunday evening after a cup final.
There are already too many dead on the field, and we cannot be generous with any but our own blood. The blood of Hungary has re-emerged too precious to Europe and to freedom for us not to be jealous of it to the last drop.
But I am not one of those who think that there can be a compromise, even one made with resignation, even provisional, with a regime of terror which has as much right to call itself socialist as the executioners of the Inquisition had to call themselves Christians.
And on this anniversary of liberty, I hope with all my heart that the silent resistance of the people of Hungary will endure, will grow stronger, and, reinforced by all the voices which we can raise on their behalf, will induce unanimous international opinion to boycott their oppressors.
And if world opinion is too feeble or egoistical to do justice to a martyred people, and if our voices also are too weak, I hope that Hungary’s resistance will endure until the counter-revolutionary State collapses everywhere in the East under the weight of its lies and contradictions.
Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories.
In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them.
It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices. But we can try to be so, in uniting Europe at last, in forgetting our quarrels, in correcting our own errors, in increasing our creativeness, and our solidarity. We have faith that there is on the march in the world, parallel with the forces of oppression and death which are darkening our history, a force of conviction and life, an immense movement of emancipation which is culture and which is born of freedom to create and of freedom to work.
Those Hungarian workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with such impotent sorrow, understood this and have made us the better understand it. That is why, if their distress is ours, their hope is ours also. In spite of their misery, their chains, their exile, they have left us a glorious heritage which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not win, but which in one single day they gave back to us. (October 23, 1957)
AHF dedicates this work
- Read this in German, Hungarian, French, and Spanish on this AHF member site, the [American Hungarian Museum]
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