2009 Commemoration of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Liberation
3/15/2009 - AHF of Washington, DC's Commemorates the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Liberation. The Chapel at Wesley Theological Seminary at American University in Washington, D.C., was once again the setting for AHFDC's annual commemoration of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Liberation in which Hungary sought to establish a democratic republic and split with Austria under its leader Louis Kossuth. This year, speakers focused on the significance of the 1848 revolution and how its ideals and goals relate to the political climate in today's Hungary.
Zoltan Bagdy, AHF Co-President and Chair of its Cultural Affairs Committee, welcomed guests who then opened the ceremonies by singing the nationalanthems of the UnitedStates and Hungary. Hungarian Ambassador Dr. Ferenc Somogyi also delivered a welcoming address.
Members of the the The 4th Bátori József Hungarian Scouts Troop of Washington, DC, were a major part of the program. Krisztina Nyerges performed a flute solo of Vivaldi's "Largo." She was followed by Emõke Tóth who recited the "Nemzeti Dal." Ferenc Koszorús III recited "Reflections," and Sebestyén Szõllõs performed a piano solo of Liszt's Sohaj (etude). Members of the troop gave additional readings.
This year's keynote address entitled, “Erők a Háttérben,” (the powers in the background) was given by the Rev. Judit Mayer who commented that today's politicians could learn from the heroes of 1848 who put the nation ahead of their own personal political agenda. She said:
AHF Co-President and Public Affairs Committee Chair, Frank Koszorus, Jr. relayed a similar theme in his address entitled, "Reflections: Why do we Commemorate 1848?" where he explores American influences on Louis Kossuth and the 1848 revolution and the need to honor Hungary's proud heritage and committment to democracy through work that promotes the same ideals advanced by Kossuth and the heroes of 1848. He remarked:
The scouts ended the program with "Kossuth Dalok" (Kossuth Songs) and the Rev. László Petró closed the ceremonies. AHF expresses sincere thanks to Gabriella Koszorus Varsa, the artist responsible for the Petofi painting seen at the commemoration, for her years of dedication to AHF and the community. Gabriella, recipient of AHF's highest award, the Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom, passed away in 2007.
In a related note, President Obama congratulated Hungary on its National Day and anniversary of its 1848 War of Liberation... "Today we honor the courageous Hungarians who set their country on the path to freedom.The legacy of the revolution continues to inspire as Hungarians advocate for freedom's cause," he said. [Download his letter].
"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. 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)
up for the AHF mailing list.
DISCLAIMER: The American Hungarian Federation does not necessarily
endorse the content or opinions expressed by its individual members
and/or member organizations. © American Hungarian Federation®, All Rights Reserved