- The American Hungarian Federation commemorates the
50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution at Washington, D.C.’s
Cosmos Club and recognizes outstanding Hungarian Americans.
The American Hungarian Federation honored the memory of the heroes
of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, at a gala dinner at the prestigious
Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., on October 20th. Close to 150 Federation
members, American Hungarians,
their American friends and relatives attended the dinner. Former Senator
Joseph Tydings gave the keynote address. During the ceremony, President
Bush's Proclamation about the 1956 Revolt was read, as well as Viktor
Orban's letter addressed to American Hungarians (see below for more).
Seven American Hungarians received the Federation's "Michael Kovats
Medal of Freedom Award" in recognition of their efforts on behalf
of Hungarian causes.
1956 was the first tear in the iron curtain and a momentous historical
event with broad implications lasting through today. 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.
the “Strolling Strings” providing
music, the program opened with a cocktail reception and a presentation
of Walter Cronkite’s stirring report, “Hungary in Revolt.”
With the tone set, AHF President Istvan Fedor officially opened the
event and welcomed guests that included Maestro Leonard Slatkin, Conductor
of the National Symphony Orchestra; Hungarian
Ambassador Andras Simonyi; Francis Gary Powers, President and Founder
of the Cold War Museum; Alex Kingsbury
of the US News and World Report; and diplomatic representatives from
the Polish and Austrian Embassies.
Master of Ceremonies, Frank Koszorús, Jr.,AHF Co-President
and Director of Public Affairs, remarked that the implications of 1956
are with us today and emphasizing the need to continue to be vigilant
against the curtailment of democracy:
the sacrifices of that incredibly brave generation in vain? Of course
not! But in order to strengthen the democracy and safeguard the freedoms
the 1956 heroes fought and died for, today’s generation –
the beneficiary of these freedoms -- must be vigilant and guard against
even the slightest curtailment of democracy or infringement of fundamental
human rights. The heroes of 1956 deserve nothing less." [download
keynote speaker was Senator
Joseph Tydings who reminded guests that the friendship between the
United States and Hungary goes back to the very beginnings of US history.
Col. Michael Kovats offered his sword to Benjamin Franklin, trained
the first US Light Cavalry, and died in battle against the British
in 1779. It was the “best cavalry the rebels ever had”
noted the British.” He went on to comment on current events
saying that the government of Hungary "owes it to the heroes
of 1956 that helped win the rights they enjoy today to govern with
honesty and integrity."
Ambassador, Andras Simonyi, addressed guests, honored the memory of this
"turning point in the 20th century," shared his personal memories
as a child, and thanked the American Hungarian Federation for its work
its efforts at ensuring that
will be forgotten." After these rememberances, AHF President Emeritus,
Rev. Dr. Imre Bertalan, provided the invocation in Memory of the Fallen.
One of AHF's major efforts in 2006 was a grassroots campaign to pass
resolutions in US State houses in
honor of 1956. US
Congress had earlier passed a similar resolution. The Honorable Mr.
Peter Ujvagi, a Ohio State Legislator who spearheaded the AHF resolution
in Ohio, presented excerpts from that resolution honoring the sacrifices
and congratulating the American Hungarian Federation on it's 100th anniversary:
“To recognize the fiftieth anniversary of the
Hungarian Revolution, the sacrifices of the Hungarian Freedom Fighters,
the contribitions that Hungarian-Americans have made to Ohio and America,
and the one hundreth anniversary of the American Hungarian Federation,
and to urge all Ohioans to honor and commemorate the contributions of
Bagdy, AHF controller, read excerpts from a letter from President George
Bush honoring the 1956 Freedom Fighters. An excerpt from President Bush's
“The story of Hungarian democracy represents the
triumph of liberty over tyranny. In the fall of 1956, the Hungarian
people demanded change, and tens of thousands of students, workers,
and other citizens bravely marched through the streets to call for freedom.
Though Soviet tanks brutally crushed the Hungarian uprising, the thirst
for freedom lived on, and in 1989 Hungary became the first communist
nation in Europe to make the transition to democracy. The lesson
of the Hungarian experience is clear: liberty can be delayed,
but it cannot be denied.”
Hungary's Fidesz party leader, Viktor Orban, sent an open letter to
Hungarian Americans [read Orban
letter] to which AHF President Istvan Fedor would later respond
[read Fedor response].
Recognizing outstanding Americans:
The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom
Executive Committee Chairman introduced the
Col. Commandant Michael
Kovats Medal of Freedom, AHF's highest award. The award was established
to recognize outstanding lifetime achievements, extraordinary contributions
to freedom and democracy, and for the support and preservation of Hungarian
society and culture. AHF's Asst. Treasurer, Atilla Kocsis, and Erika
National Secretary, presented the award to the 2006 recipients:
(see previous AHF
General Robert Ivany, Ph. D.
Dr. Iványi and his family left Hungary after WWII and
emigrated to the United States. A distinguished graduate of West
Point, Dr. Ivanyi would go on to serve 34 years and rise to the
rank of Major General. As an Army Cavalry Officer, he would lead
troops on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam where he was wounded
in action and decorated for valor. He presided over the prestigious
US Army War College and was the first senior military officer
invited to Hungary to contribute to democratization of their defense
establishment. He has served in a number of unique positions from
Army Aide to the President to Asst. Professor and football coach
A recipient of many awards and expert in leadership development,
Dr. Ivanyi was named President of Houston’s University
of St. Thomas.
Honorable Mary Mocháry
Mary Mochary graduated from Wellesley College in 1963 and the
University of Chicago Law School in 1967. From 1971 to 1984, she
practiced law in Montclair, New Jersey, in the firm of Mochary
and Mochary, which later merged with the New York firm of Lane
and Mittendorf. During this period, she was an active volunteer
as president of the New Jersey Wellesley Club, on the board of
the Whole Theater Company, and Foundation of the Archdiocese of
Ms. Mochary entered local politics in 1980 when she was elected
mayor of Montclair. In 1984, she won the Republican primary in
New Jersey and ran against incumbent Bill Bradley for the United
States Senate. After losing her bid for the U.S. Senate, Ms. Mochary
was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be Deputy Legal Advisor
at the U.S. Department of State. She remained at the State Department
until 1993 as a foreign policy expert and negotiator on property
issues. In 1993, Ms. Mochary returned to private life. She is
currently involved with many not-for-profit organizations, including
the Kennedy Center and the Washington National Opera.
Honorable Anikó Gaal-Schott
Aniko escaped from Hungary as a child with her parents during
the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Aniko grew up in Canada, where she
received a degree in biochemistry and then went on to study dentistry
at Montreal's McGill University. She lived and traveled abroad
initially with the U.S. Foreign Service then later as Vice President
of the famed Garfinckle's Stores of Washington D.C. Aniko is a
professional artist with numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally.
The recipient of numerous awards including:
- the National Order of the Southern Cross
- the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Republic of
Hungary for her significant contributions to promote
hungary's name and for her work in 1994 in helping Hungary with
refugees from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia
Most recently, she was actively involved in promoting the inclusion
of hungary into NATO. In 2003 president bush appointed her to
serve on his "Cultural Property Advisory Committee,"
a post she holds to present.
Honorable Péter S. Ujvági
Fled Hungary on Christmas Eve 1956 at the age of 7. Arrived in
the US in June 1957. Attended the University of Toledo and continues
to live in an old Hungarian neighborhood of East Toledo. Elected
as City Councilman for 20 years, President of City Council and
currently only Hungarian in the Ohio State Legislature. Served
in the President’s commission on neighborhoods. Co-founder
National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee. Member of the
official United State delegation to the funeral of Hungarian Prime
Minister Antal Jozsef. A founder and former President of the Hungarian
Paul Julius Szilágyi
Fought in the Ulloi/Prater Ut area as a “Pesti Srac”
(Boys from Pest) during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Despite
high qualifying marks, he was refused entry to university as an
“enemy of the state” for nothing more than his family
name. He would hone is chemistry skills at Chinoin, but fled Hungary
on November 22, 1956. Received scholarship through the International
Rescue Committee to Colorado College. Went to Case-Western Reserve
in Cleveland to become the only Hungarian-American to receive
his Ph.D. from Hungarian Nobel Prize winner George Olah. A holder
of patents for biomedical devices and an expert in the field of
cyanoacrylates. Dr. Szilagyi was a professor at the University
Imre “Jimmy” László Tóth
Dr. Emery Imre Toth is the last surviving Secretary of the Revolutionary
Committee for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Imre Nagy
Government.” Dr. Emery Imre Toth is a Motion Picture/Video
Producer-Director with national and international reputation.
Produced over 250 documentary and feature film projects. Received
38 National and International Awards for Excellence. Lifetime
and Honorary Member of the CINE International Film Festival's
Board of Directors. He was elected Co-President of the American
Hungarian Federation in 2006. Read more about him on [featured
János Horváth, a distinguished emeritus
professor of economics, has been a Member of the Hungarian Parliament
since 1998, in the ranks of the FIDESZ-Hungarian Civic Party.
He first entered public life as a university student via the
Hungarian Independence Movement against Hitler and the Nazis.
In December 1944 he was arrested and cruelly interrogated by the
Hungarian branch of the Nazis, the Arrow Cross, and was saved
from execution by the advance of the Soviet army into Budapest.
A few years later he was again imprisoned, this time by the Soviet
imposed Communist dictatorship. Meanwhile he had been elected
Member of the Hungarian Parliament in 1945, where he served until
his arrest and imprisonment in 1947. He became a political leader
in the 1956 Revolution against the Soviet occupation and communist
dictatorship. After the Soviet military intervention he gained
refuge with UN in New York and settled in his new home, the US.
He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and became
one of the leading experts of grants economics, an area of study
of unilateral transfers in the economy with particular relevance
for intergovernmental economics, intra-family resource allocation,
and nonprofit service provision. He was active in public life
during his 41 years in the USA, e.g. he was the Chairman of Economic
Advisers of Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb in 1970s when he also
served as the head of the Department of Economics at Butler University.
In 1998 he repatriated to Hungary and was elected to the Parliament
a second time, and in 2002 he was reelected. As a lawmaker his
focus is political economy and world affairs. [read
more] about him and the award event.
Prof. Hargitai wrote his first poem during the 1956 Hungarian
Revolution, when he was nine years old. His family fled after
the Hungarian Revolution. He has published several books and award-winning
translations from Hungarian literature for which he was awarded
the Pro Cultura Hungarica medal from the Republic of Hungary.
He has taught at several American universities including the University
of Miami, the University of Massachusetts, and Florida International
University where he is currently on the English faculty. His most
recent work, "Daughter of the Revolution," a story of
a brave freedom fighter - a 14 year-old girl – co-published
by AHF to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the ill-fated
Revolution. Read more about him on [featured
Sándor Taraszovics (Posthumous)
Sándor Taraszovics and his technician colleague tapped
into the communications between the Hungarian Communist Party
and Moscow. He reported the intercepts to Budapest, which reached
Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister. On November 4. when the shooting
phase of the undeclared war was launched by the USSR against Hungary,
Sandor and his companion destroyed important elements of the communication
equipment, thereby disrupting this vital connection between Moscow
and Budapest. Sandor was also elected to the Workers Council in
Nyiregyhaza during the Revolution, and his brother was killed
in the fighting. Sandor had to flee Hungary to save his life.
Sandor joined Gen. Bela Kiraly (fellow Kovats
Award recipient) in New York and became one of the founding
members of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter-National Guard Federation.
Within this organization Sandor participated in the work with
the UN. General Assembly's Committee of Five's investigation of
the case of the Hungarian Revolution. For years Sandor worked
hard in disseminating useful information about 1956, pointing
out the lies the Soviet agents spread about 56'; he also helped
Hungarian refugees to find their place in America.
Sandor participated in the founding of the "Atlantic Studies
on Society in Change" an English language book series, distributed
by Columbia University Press world wide. The series have been
concentrating on the question of the Hungarian history and safeguards
the good reputation of '56. Sandor contributed an essay on "American
Peace Plans and Shaping of Hungary's Post World War I. Borders"
to volume No. 15. Béla K. Király Peter Pastor and
Ivan Sanders (editors) War and Society in East Central Europe
vol. VI. Essays on World WarI: Total War and Peacemaking, A Case
Study on Trianon. New York: 1982. pp. 227-254. He was a member
and officer of the American Hungarian Federation and other similar
Giving Thanks to to a "Great
AHF's Executive Chairman, Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi gave closing remarks:
"This is not only a night of remembrance, it is an evening of
thanks. We are here to thank both those that braved communist bullets
and those that braved an uncertain future leaving everything behind
only to start again. AHF also thanks all those that worked so hard
to make this event possible"
Dawson-Szilagyi asked those that took up arms against
the communist regime to stand and be recognized. He then asked all guests
who fled Hungary to stand. He continued:
"We thank the Embassy of Poland for again showing solidarity
with Hungary as it has for centuries and for producing the film all
of you will take home tonight, "Poznan to Budapest," the
gripping story about the birth of unrest in Poland to the brutal hanging
of Peter Mansfeld, a 16-yearold boy-turned-1956 freedom fighter after
the Soviets crushed the Hungarian revolt. We thank the Austrian Embassy
for their support and remember the open arms and help it gave to the
thousands fleeing communist brutality.
Why Hungary? What is it about Hungarians that would give them the
courage to rise up against such a powerful foe? To understand 1956,
we must understand the Hungarian character. Hungarians are a fiercely
independent people that for centuries rose up against foreign domination.
A nation that spans over one thousand years cannot be understood in
a short speech, but I hope to give you a taste of what it means to
be a freedom-loving Hungarian. Democracy and the willingness to fight
for it, is not a new phenomenon in Hungary…"
Dawson-Szilagyi would provide a historical perspective Hungarian resistence
over the centuries. Long before Western Europe, Hungarians elected Kings,
declared religious freedom, and fought repeatedly for independence,
braving onslaught after onslaught from the East with little or no help
from the West. Sadly, the West would again only watch in 1956.
"So why is 1956 important today?" The fierce
political debate happening today [referring to the 2006 political crisis
in Hungary] would not be possible without the sacrifices of 1956. He
thanked all those that made the event possible and reminded everyone
not to forget 1956. "1956 is an example for all of us. 1956 taught
us honor, respect, and reminds us what it means to lose freedom and
the terrible cost of regaining it. Today's leaders can learn a lot from
this great generation of 1956-ers. We are Hungarians first, above party.
We have a responsibility to each other. This is my challenge to next
generation... it is my hope that the unity found in 1956 can be rekindled
with us. Only in unity can we find strength. Remember Hungary! Most
vagy Soha!” [download his remarks].
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[Additional Photos Below]
AHF expresses thanks our sponsors, patrons, volunteers,
the core team, and to all those that helped make this event possible!
The 1956 Committee
Cosmos Core Team
- Dr. Paul J. Szilagyi (Chair)
- Zoltan Bagdy
- Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi
- Maria Farkas
- Paul Kamenar
- Atilla Kocsis
- Frank Koszorus, Jr.
- Sandor Murray
- Imre "Jimmy"Toth
- Zsuzsa Kiss Toth
- Zsuzsa Szabo
- Gerri Michajszki
AHF would like to express its sincere gratitude to the following Sponsors
Col. Kovats Circle Sponsors (alphabetically)
- Mrs. Aniko Gaál-Schott
- The Hungarian Reformed Federation of America
- Ms. Bobbie Kálmán
- Gen. Béla Király
- Mr. and Mrs. Atilla Kocsis
- Mr. and Mrs. Sándor Murrai
- Mr. László Papp
- Dr. and Mrs. Paul J. Szilágyi
- The William Penn Association
Freedom Circle Patrons (alphabetically)
- The Bethlen Home
- Mr. and Mrs. István Fedor
- Mr. and Mrs. Paul Harsányi
- Mr. and Mrs. László Högye
- Mr. and Mrs. Attila Micheller
- Mr. and Mrs. Ákos Nagy