|2011 Commemoration of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Liberation|
3/11/2012 - AHF commemorates Hungarian National Day and the 1848 War of Independence. The commemoration emphasized Hungary's revered history of standing up for freedom and liberty against great odds, including in 1848 – 1849, and urged that this history not be defamed through political expediency.
The 1848 Hungarian Revolution, under its leader Louis Kossuth sought to throw off the Austrian Yoke. It failed after Russian intervention, but its impact on the United States is felt even today. The annual commemoration of 1848, organized by the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the American Hungarian Federation was held this year on March 11th at the American University Kay Spiritual Center. Similar events were held across the country.
Each year, speakers focus on the significance of the 1848 revolution and how its ideals and goals relate to today's Hungary. Zoltán Bagdy, AHF Co-President and Chair of its Cultural Affairs Committee, welcomed guests and served as Master of Ceremonies. Bryan Dawson, AHF Executive Chairman, sang the national anthems of the United States and Hungary and would later deliver the Keynote Address (Ünnepi Beszéd).
Andras Bacsi-Nagy, Deputy Chief of Mission, represented the Hungarian Embassy. In his Welcome Address, Mr. Bacsi-Nagy compared the transformational events of 1848 and 1956 with today. He recalled the Russian intervention in both conflicts and Hungary's repeated hope for US support. The changes taking place today in Hungary are profound, he noted, deserving of American support from both sides of the aisle. He added that the current government's economic and social platforms are compatible with US Democratic and Republican visions respectively:
AHF President Frank Koszorus, Jr., delivered his annual "Reflections" address which this year focused on Kossuth's affect on the relationship between Hungary and the United States, the need to protect Hungary's international reputation, and the extreme negative affects on that reputation when poltical motivations outweigh honest debate.
"Regardless of our individual political preferences or perspectives on Hungary, we can all agree, I believe, that we should call for objectivity and evenhandedness bereft of partisan politics when judgments are made about Hungary. This should not be a liberal or conservative issue – it is a question of accuracy and fundamental fairness. Hungary has a revered history of standing up for freedom and liberty against great odds, including in 1848 – 1849, and it is not to be defamed through political expediency. It is this history that we commemorate today and wish to preserve as part of the permanent legacy left in the wake of Kossuth’s trip to the United States." [download Frank's speech]
Bryan Dawson, AHF Executive Chairman, Committee delivered the 2012 Keynote Address entitled, "Novus Scotus Viator: A Case for a Kossuth-style Worldview in 2012." [download Bryan's speech (English and Hungarian)].
He reflected on how Kossuth's worldview enabled him to not only recognize the impact of external forces on Hungarian sovereignty, but guided his strategy. Kossuth's remarkable eloquence, sophistication and statesmanship not only gained friends and allies (his impact was particularly strong in United States), it significantly enhanced Hungary's international reputation. Bryan added that the eventual decline of that reputation and the Hungarian leadership's inability to deal effectively with external anti-Hungarians forces would leqad to the unthinkable: the dismemberment of Hungary. Bryan said:
Bryan discussed the rise of nationalism in the late 1800's through early 1900's and the role of external forces, who now saw Hungary as a threat and manipulated ethnic tensions to Hungary's detriment. He compared the efforts of Robert Seton-Watson, writing under his pen name "Scotus Viator," who, along with Henry Wickham Steed as part of official British policy, greatly influenced negative attitudes toward Hungary, to today's baseless attacks. He feels Hungary did not react well to these external forces and added that history seems to be repeating itself today with a new cadre of Scotus Viators against which there seems no effective strategy.
Bryan had opened his speech quoting Benjamin Franklin and Friedrich Nietsche:
Bryan also discussed the promise of 1989, when Hungary finally was freed from communist rule, and the challenges Hungary faces in rebuilding a nation divided and bankrupted. Entire generations of Hungarians lived under a communist regime whose interest was to stifle Hungarians' deep sense of pride and patriotism:
While the EU and media harshly criticize Hungary for lowering judge retirement age, an internal policy decision, they ignore egregious attacks on human and minority rights. He closed the speech referring back to Franklin and Nietsche and reminding us that hope alone is not a strategy and cannot bring change. We need hard work and Kossuthesque eloquence and "solidity of action."
Bryan urged the community to unite on common ground issues and to continue to support the Federation and its work:
Members of the the The 4th Bátori József Hungarian Scouts Troop of Washington, DC seen here (photo courtesty of MTI Pogár Demeter), provided a major part of the program which included a poetic re-enactment of the beginnings of the 1848 Revolution, including Hargitai Adam who recited Petőfi Sándor's Nemzeti Dal.
The Scouts then led the audience in the patriotic Kosuth Dalok (Kossuth Songs). The Revs. Peter Pal Cegledi and Judit Mayer of the Hungarian Reformed Church of Washington, D.C., provided the benediction and closing remarks respectively - Bryan Dawson.
Photos below are of the 2011 Ceremony courtesy of Dr. Imre Nemeth.
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News, Articles and Speeches from other 2012 Commemorations:
"the house of Habsburg-Lorraine, perjured in the sight of
God and man, had forfeited the Hungarian throne."
"All for the people and all by the people. Nothing about
the people without the people. That is Democracy, and that is the ruling
tendency of the spirit of our age."
Kossuth Lajos (b. 1802, d. 1894, pronounced co-shoot luh-yôsh) was Governor of Hungary during fight for independence and democracy which was eventually defeated by the union of the royalist Austrian Habsburg and Russian Czarist Armies (1848 - 1849). Kossuth envisioned a federation in the Kingdom of Hungary in which all nationalties participated in a vibrant democratic system based on fundamental democratic principles such as equality and parliamentary representation. The bloody conflict eventually led to a great compromise known as the "Austro-Hungarian Empire," in which Hungary gained some autonomy. although Kossuth would have no part in it and demanded full indepependence until his death.
The speech from which the above excerpt is taken was given over a decade before Lincoln's famed "for the people, by the people" speech given at Gettysburg in 1863. Kossuth was the first foreign Statesman officially invited to the US since the Marquis de Lafayette. His upcoming speech in the Congress of the United States made the pre-civil war joint house nervous due to his democratic views on equality of all men. Kossuth learned English while in prison and exile and spoke to half the population of the US who enthusiastically greeted and flocked to hear him. Despite Hungary's epic struggle and Kossuth's brave and noble efforts, the US, the "Bastion of Democracy" turned him away, empty handed. Hungary was alone again in its fight for democracy in 1956, and didn't gain freedom until 1989 and would soon join NATO.
Today, there are many reminders of Kossuth's impact on America and the world. In North America, there is a Kossuth County in the state of Iowa, a town with his name in Indiana, Ohio and Mississippi, a settlement with a Kossuth Post Office is in Pennsylvania. In addition, there are Kossuth statues and plaques in New York, Cleveland, Akron, New Orleans, Washington, and Ontario, Canada. The Hungarian Reformed Federation's building on Dupont Circle, in Washington, DC is called Kossuth House with a memorial plaque commemorating his speech on democracy. See the picture gallery and memorials on Louis Kossuth in North America.
The renowned Ralph Waldo Emerson said in greeting Kossuth on his arrival at Concord, MA, May 11, 1852:
"[we] have been hungry to see the man whose extraordinary eloquence is seconded by the splendor and the solidity of his actions."
Kossuth was greeted with wild enthusiasm across the country. He was only the second foreign leader (second to Lafayette) to address a joint session of Congress. The American Hungarian Federation dedicated a bust that now sits proudly in the US Capitol - it reads, "Louis Kossuth, Father of Hungarian Democracy" [read more]
Louis Kossuth Speak! [Click Here] - This is the speech of Louis Kossuth which he gave for the dedication of the statue for the 13 Hungarian generals, who were executed at Arad, Hungary, on October 6, 1849 (Arad is in Rumania today after annexation due to the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 ).
Louis Kossuth was exiled after the fall of the Hungarian Liberation Fight of 1848 and made his permanent home in Torino (Turin), Italy. He could not attend the dedication of the monument at Arad, without risking arrest, so he recorded his speech inTurin, and sent it to Arad using the new technology of sound recording, called the phonograph.
The original recording on two wax cylinders for the Edison phonograph survives to this day, although barely audible due to excess playback and unsuccessful early restoration attempts. Lajos Kossuth is the earliest born person in the world who has his voice preserved. Since the audio is of such poor quality, here is it is transcribed in Hungarian and translated to English (special thanks to Louis Kossuth in North America)