Memorial Day 2007 in Arlington Cemetery: Honoring our Heroes
8/13/2007 - Video of the 2007 Memorial Day Commemoration and Wreath Laying at Arlington National Cemetery. AHF's annual Memorial Day Commemoration was held on May 27, 2007 at Arlington National Cemetery. This special 100th anniversary year included wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. [click to see video] (Windows Media - 24 Mb)
5/27/2007 - AHF lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The American Hungarian Federation's 2007 Memorial Day Commemoration Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery included a wreath laying the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 40 members and guests and throngs of tourists witnessed the special ceremony as AHF President Atilla Micheller was escorted by Lt. Col. Steve Vekony (US Army) and the First Califiornia Hussar Regiment. Arlington National is the final resting place for a number of Hungarian American Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Following the wreath laying, the program included a remembrance and walking tour of Hungarian-American gravesites.
AHF Co-President Zoltan Bagdy led the group in prayer and then, with AHF Vice-President Yvette Boone-Gorog, led a roll call honoring Hungarian-American military present at the ceremony and those that had passed on. AHF Executive Committee Chairman, Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi, led the national anthems of both nations and gave a speech highlighting the millenia-old Hungarian committment to fighting (and dying) for Democracy. Participants then went on a walking tour of selected gravesites where the heroism of these fallen heroes was remembered through the reading of their personal history.
Bryan Dawson Szilagyi commented: "This was a historic moment in Hungarian-American history. What a great honor indeed to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Americans of Hungarian descent who have fought and died in every American war since the War of Independence, today paid tribute to not only their fallen brethren but to their fellow Americans from all races and creeds. We honor and remember all those that died for their country."
The American Hungarian Federation (AHF) established the Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom to honor outstanding individuals and recognize their life's achievements, dedication to freedom and democracy, promotion of transatlantic relations, and meritorious contribution to society. The award, AHF's highest honor, is open to Hungarians and non-Hungarians alike.
Inscribed on the medal is AHF's Motto, “Fidelissimus ad Mortem" or "Faithful Unto Death,” which represents Hungarian American historical committment to the United States. The motto was taken from a letter written by former Hussar Officer Michael Kováts to Benjamin Franklin. Kovats, known as a Founding Father of the US Cavalry, offered his sword in service to the United States. On May 11, 1779, Colonel Kovats gave his life in the American War for Independence while leading the Continental Army cavalry he had trained in Hungarian hussar tactics against a British siege of Charleston. The British remarked that Kovats' forces were "the best cavalry the rebels ever had." He is immortalized in the almost lifesize portrait by Gabriella Koszrous-Varsa seen here. He is immortalized at the Citadel Miltary Academy in South Carolina as they honor him and named "Kovats Field" after him. The Hungarian Embassy, too, has a statue in his honor sculpted by Paul Takacs and executed by Attila Dienes.
Just as Kovats’ life and service is celebrated annually by US Military Cadets at the Citadel, the motto reflects AHF virtues, and historically and inextricably ties Hungarians and Americans together while symbolizing Hungarians’ contributions and sacrifices to America’s beginning. Among the oldest ethnic organizations in the US, AHF was founded in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio, and established as an association of Hungarian societies, institutions and churches to “defend the interest of Americans of Hungarian origin in the United States.”
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See below to learn more about the Hungarian Americans buried at Arlington National Cemetery. To see where some of these heroes are buried, [download the map]!
IF YOU KNOW additional Hungarian Americans buried in Arlington National, please contact us!
General Alexander Asbóth
the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, he was wounded in the left arm. Despite
the wound, he saddled up next morning. His arm was later shattered and
a bullet lodged under his cheek in the Marianna engagement in Florida.
In 1866, he was appointed U.S. Minister to Argentina and Uruguay. The
wound in his cheek failed to heal, and on January 21, 1868, he died and
was buried in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He finally came home on October
23, 1990 to full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery thanks
to the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Federation. His grandson attended
the funeral and is in the Virginia National Guard. Read more about him
Major-General Julius H. Stáhel
Stahel received the US Congressional Medal of Honor for
his bravery at the Battle of Piedmont in Virginia. While wounded, the
General led a cavalry charge which led to a Union victory. In 1866 President
appointed Stahel consul in Japan where he succeeded in opening additional
ports to American trade. In 1884 he was made consul in Shanghai, China.
SSgt. Lászlo Rábel
As he and a comrade prepared to clear the area, he heard
an incoming grenade as it landed in the midst of the team's perimeter.
With complete disregard for his own life, he threw himself on the grenade
and, covering it with his body, received the complete impact of the immediate
explosion. By gallantry at the cost of his life in the highest traditions
of the military service, he has reflected great credit upon himself and
the US Army.
Capt. Ákos Dezsö
complete disregard for his own personal safety, he moved about the bullet
swept area, and while engaging the enemy with his M-16 rifle, Captain
Szekely was mortally wounded. His valorous actions contributed immeasurably
to the successful completion of his mission and the defeat of the enemy
force. He appears to be the only Hungarian American whose tombstone uses
Hungarian accented characters. When competing for an appointment to West
Point, Representative John R. Foley, Sixth Maryland District, reported
his selection from the large number of finalists with this remark: “Akos
Szekely…the most unique, special, and outstanding student I ever
appointed to the United States Military Academy.” He would go on
to rank near the top in all of his academic courses and graduated number
five in his class on 3 June 1964, and has been recognized as the highest
ranking graduate of Hungarian ancestry from any of the United States Service
TEC5 Andrew Major
As former president of Collins and Aikman Decorative Fabrics, he presided over the world's leading fabric group. He joined Mastercraft in 1946, became president in 1960, assumed ownership in 1969, and is responsible for the company's meteoric rise, which today provides employment for 3,500 and sales in excess of $350 million. The recipient of numerous industry and civic awards, including the first Lifetime Leadership Award from Dupont in 1995, which embodied his creativity, devotion and legendary status in the industry. In 2002 he received ''The Trailblazer Award'' and was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame.
He will always be remembered for his wit, generosity and love of life.
In lieu of flowers the family asked for contributions to the Andrew Major
Scholarship Fund at Isothermal Community College, P.O. Box 804, 288 ICC
Loop Road, Spindale, N.C. 28160.
Nicholas Ferencz, III
CWO2 Alexander Ferencz
S/Sgt. George Alexander de Holczer
QM2 Steven Ganzberger
[Read his Memorial]
Maj. Zoltan J. Balogh
M Gy Sergeant Dale R Csizmadia
Thomas C. Cseak, Sr.
Maj. Francis Csutoros
Lt. Col. Zoltan Kato
Zoltan is an alumnus of the University of Chicago who wrote the following memorial: "Zoltan Kato of Southfield, Michigan, died January 25, 2000, of prostate cancer. He was 78. Kato worked first for Motorola, then as a communications engineer for the Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority until his retirement in 1987. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is survived by his wife, Eleanore; a son, Ken; a daughter, Mary Le Compte; and six grandchildren."
LCpl. Attila Kovacs
Cpl. John Joseph Kovacs
CW04 Michael Kovacs
CPL Stephen J. Kovacs
Capt. William Kovacs
Maj. Arpad Pauncz
A2C Arpad Sayko
Lt. Zoltan Robert Francis Szaloki
Did you know there are at least 9 Hungarian American recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor? Read more about Maj. General Asboth and other Hungarian American Military Heroes on The Hungary Page's "Nobel Prize Winners and Famous Hungarians" Military Section.
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