2007 Commemoration of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Liberation
3/18/2007 - Washington-area Hungarians commemorate the 1848 Revolution... Hungarians in the Washington Metropolitan area gathered Sunday, March 18, 2007 at the Wesley Theological Seminary, to commemorate March 15 and the 1848 Hungarian Revolution. The American Hungarian Federation of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., organized the event, and members of the Bathori Jozsef Hungarian Scout Troup of Washington provided a good part of the program.
AHF Co-President and Master of Ceremonies, Zoltán Bagdy welcomed the audience and recognized AHF leadership and distinguished guests from the Hungarian Embassy, the William Penn Association and the Hungarian Reformed Federation. The Reverend Dr. Imre Bertalan opened the commemoration with a retrospective look at the 100-year history of the American Hungarian Federation and reviewed the various events and celebrations AHF is planning for the coming year.
AHF Vice-President Yvette Görög-Boone, an attorney who received her law degree in Budapest and her Master of Laws degree at Georgetown University Law School, delivered the keynote address calling on the Hungarian community to rekindle the spirit of 1848 and to guard Hungary's place in the community of democratic nations: "Washingtonban es az amerikai fovaros kornyeken elo, dolgozo es tartozkodo magyarok, akik valoszinuleg hozzam hasonloan sokszor elgondolkodtak az amerikai demokracia ervenyesulesen es a szabadsagjogok szeleskoru megvalosulasan es parhuzamba allitottak es allitjak azt a mindenkori aktualis magyarorszagi helyzettel. Bizony hosszu ut all meg elottunk. Bizony sokat kell meg tanulnunk." "Gondolkodjunk tehat el azon itt Magyarorszagtol ugyan tavol, hogy mit teszunk vagy mit tehetunk azert, hogy az 1848-as forradalom szellemehez es hoseihez meltoan Magyarorszag megorizze kulturajat, nyelvenek gazdagsagat, apolja tortenelmet es hagyomanyait, valamint megorizze helyet a demokratikus es szabad allamok soraban az europai nemzetek kozott." [Click here to download] the text of her address (in Hungarian/Magyarul).
AHF Co-President (and President of AHFDC) Frank Koszorus, Jr.'s address, "Kossuth and the Meaning of Democracy," focused attention on the dangers of "illberal democracy" and the "tyranny of the majority" in Central and Eastern Europe:
"In evaluating countries today, we tend to look at only one aspect
of democracy – elections. Remember the purple thumbs in Iraq? Yet,
suppose elections are free and fair, but those elected are not committed
to the rule of law, to individual and minority rights, to freedom of expression,
assembly and religion, or to the right to private property. Aren’t
we then left with of the "tyranny of the majority," as Tocqueville
warned? Don’t we end up with illiberal democracy instead of with
the bundle of rights protected by constitutional liberalism, as Fareed
Zakaria pondered in his November, 1997 Foreign Affairs article, “The
Rise of Illiberal Democracy”? As we observe Central and Eastern
Europe, we see free and fair elections. But is democracy as defined by
Kossuth prevailing? Often the answer is “yes,” but are “all
the people” considered when, for example, police rules and regulations
are ignored, as we witnessed last October in Budapest?
The scouts recited poetry of the period and sang Kossuth songs. One of the scouts, Sebestyén Szollos, performed Franz Schubert's Impromptu No.4. Opus.90. Sári Bárczay recited the “Nemzeti Dal.” Viktor Szederkényi represented the Hungarian embassy and spoke about the significance of 1848 for Hungarians in our time.
The Reverend Zoltán Kovács, assistant pastor of the Hungarian Reformed Church of Washington closed the commemoration. Click the pictures for larger versions.
"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.
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. Kossuth even spawned a fashion craze (moustache-less beard with TopHat) in the ever trendy US. The American Hungarian Federation dedicated a bust that now sits proudly in the US Capitol - it reads, "Louis Kossuth, Father of Hungarian Democracy"
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)
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