200th Birthday of Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats de Fabricy
5/14/2012 - AHF Associate President Gyula Balogh joins US Ambassador Kounalakis in laying wreath on the 200th Anniversary of the Death of Col. Commandant Michael Kovats de Fabricy. US Ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, spoke at the May 11th event, held in Col. Kovats' birthplace, Karcag.
Kovats is considered a Founding Father of the US Cavalry who 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.
Ambassador Kounalakis attended the memorial ceremony honoring Col. Michael (Mihály) Kováts, a native of Karcag, who left Hungary to fight in the American Revolutionary War. He wrote a letter to Benjamin Franklin offering his services and then recruited, trained and led the first U.S.cavalry unit into battle. He died on May 11, 1779, when he led a cavalry charge against the British troops in South Carolina toliberate the city of Charleston. In her remarks, she reflected on her personal motivation for attending the anniversary commemoration:
"Through government-to-government and people-to-people exchanges, our two countries have a long and proud history together. But as evidenced by Colonel Kovats, the ties between our countries go back far beyond 90 years.
Kovats Mihaly left his homeland for an idea, the idea of freedom. Legend has it that, after hearing about the American Revolution, he wrote to Benjamin Franklin, saying, "Golden freedom cannot be purchased with yellow gold," and offered his services on behalf of the revolutionaries. He sailed across the ocean, turning up in a far-away land, where he, a great Hussar, recruited, trained and led the first U.S. cavalry unit into battle.
On May 11, 1779 – 233 years ago today – Colonel Kovats led a cavalry charge against British troops in South Carolina to liberate the city of Charleston. He and his horse were struck down and he was killed in battle.
When I first heard this story, I decided that it was my duty, as the U.S. Ambassador, to come to Karcag, and lay a wreath at his statue. I am very happy to be here today to do so." [read her full remarks]
The British remarked that Kovats' forces were "the best cavalry the rebels ever had." He is immortalized at the Citadel Miltary Academy in South Carolina as they honored him with a memorial and named "Kovats Field" after him. The Hungarian Embassy, too, has a statue in his honor (seen here) sculpted by Paul Takacs and executed by Attila Dienes. [learn more about Col. Michael Kovats]
AHF's Associate President, Gyula Balogh, also attended the ceremony with Zsuzsa Dreisziger, President of AHF's sister organization, the Hungarian American Club (Amerikai Magyar Klub www.amkl.org) in Hungary. They laid a wreath in the name of American Hungarians who honor his memory. The Amerikai Magyar Klub, under its "Amerikaiak a Magyarokért Közhasznú Alapítvány," (AMKA) and has led the effort to help families affected by devastating flooding and toxic sludge contamination. Mr. Balogh and Ms. Dreisziger also attended the Kovats Charity Ball and made a donation to Karcag students on behalf of AMKA which established an award to be given to three Karcag children who demonstrate volunteerism and community service. In 1989, Sandor Balogh, member of the AMKA board, established the "Sándor Bodó Díj" (award) given annually to deserving young students at the Kovats Mihaly School in Karcag.
[Watch the Kovats Ceremony] on Mediator TV in Karcag
AHF Establishes Medal of Freedom
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. Learn about AHF's Highest Honor: The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats. Learn about AHF's Highest Honor: The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats [Medal of Freedom]
[Learn more] about Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats de Fabricy
Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, az Egyesült Államok budapesti nagykövete ünnepi köszöntőjében arról beszélt: előző nap ünnepelték az amerikai–magyar diplomáciai kapcsolatok felvételének 90. évfordulóját, de éppen Kováts ezredes példája mutatja, hogy a két nép közötti kötelékek ennél jóval hosszabb időre nyúlnak vissza. [tovabb magyarul]
Michael Kovats' Leter to Benjamin Franklin and US Congress, January 13th, 1777:
"Most Illustrious Sir:
Golden freedom cannot be purchased with yellow gold.
As to my military status I was trained in the Royal Prussian Army and raised from the lowest rank to the dignity of a Captain of the Hussars, not so much by luck and the mercy of chance than by most diligent self discipline and the virtue of my arms. The dangers and the bloodshed of a great many campaigns taught me how to mold a soldier, and, when made, how to arm him and let him defend the dearest of the lands with his best ability under any conditions and developments of the war.
I now am here of my own free will, having taken all the horrible hardships and bothers of this journey, and l am willing to sacrifice myself wholly and faithfully as it is expected of an honest soldier facing the hazards and great dangers of the war, to the detriment of Joseph and as well for the freedom of your great Congress. Through the cooperation and loyal assistance of Mr. Faedevill, a merchant of this city and a kind sympathizer of the Colonies and their just cause, I have obtained passage on a ship called "Catharina Froam Darmouth, " whose master is a Captain Whippy. I beg your Excellency, to grant me a passport and a letter of recommendation to the most benevolent Congress. I am expecting companions who have not yet reached here. Your Excellency would be promoting the common cause by giving Mr. Faedevill authorization to expedite their passage to the Colonies once they have arrived here.
At last, awaiting your gracious answer, I have no wish greater than to leave forthwith, to be where I am needed most, to serve and die in everlasting obedience to Your Excellency and the Congress.
Most faithful unto death (Fidelissiums ad Mortem),
Bordeaux, January l3th, 1777
AHF Establishes Medal of Freedom
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” (Híven Mindhalálig in Hungarian) representing 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 the Founding Father of the US Cavalry, who 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 Koszorus-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 (see here) 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.”
Learn about AHF's Highest Honor: The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats [Medal of Freedom]
Located at the west entrance to the parking lot in the faculty housing area behind Bond Hall (formerly Kovats Field) is a memorial to Colonel Michael Kovats de Fabricy, a nobleman and military leader killed in Charleston during the Revolutionary War. A native of Hungary he served in his countries army as well as those of Austria and Prussia; while serving with the French army he learned of the American Revolution and volunteered his services to the American Ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin. He was commissioned a Colonel-Commander in the Continental Army and placed in charge of the Lancers in the Legion organized by Count Casimir Pulaski; Kovats recruited, trained and lead what became the first U.S. Cavalry unit. He was killed on May 11, 1779 while leading an assault on British forces that were laying siege to Charleston and was reportedly buried a short distance from The Citadel campus. To this date, Michael de Kovats is celebrated by cadets at the college. (Courtesy - The Citadel Military College of South Carolina)