Coalition Members Attend Commemorations on the 60th Anniversary of the 1956 Revolution

Washington, DC – This month, the Hungarian American community commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution and freedom fight with many events organized across the United States to pay homage and remind the world of the hope, courage and sacrifice of Hungarian freedom fighters. Many founders of the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) are ’56-ers themselves, and are playing a role in the commemorations.

We honor the memory of the Hungarian revolution and freedom fight – those who gave their lives, and those whose lives were forever changed as they were forced to leave their homeland.

We commend our member organizations and supporters who have created memorable programs for this special anniversary year: Hungarian Society of Massachusetts, the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society; San Francisco Bay Area Hungarian community; William Penn Association; Bethlen Communities; Hungarian American community in Seattle, WA; United Magyar House of Los Angeles; American Hungarian Heritage House; the Hungarian Scouts of Washington DC; Minnesota Hungarians; Hungarian American Cultural Center (HACC), Detroit; and the Hungarian Club of Chicago.

The Unveiling Ceremony of the ‘Budapest Lad’ (Pesti Srác) sculpture at the new building of the Embassy of Hungary on October 16, 2016  Photo Courtesy: Bocskai Rádió

On October 16, Coalition leaders, including President Max Teleki, Chair Emerita Edith Lauer and VP Andrea Lauer Rice attended a ceremony organized by the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC to unveil the statue of the “Budapest Lad” (Pesti Srác). The life-size bronze statue depicts a Hungarian student from 1956 who is holding the Hungarian national flag with a hole in the middle – where the symbol of the oppressive Communist regime has been cut out.

The keynote speaker was Hungary’s Minister of National Development Miklós Seszták. Other distinguished guests included Colleen Bell, US Ambassador to Hungary; Zsolt Németh, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian National Assembly; and Ambassador-at-large János Horváth, former Doyen of the Hungarian National Assembly and the founder of the New York Hungarian Revolutionary Council in 1957. The ceremony took place at 1500 Rhode Island Ave, NW, on the grounds of the new building of the Embassy of Hungary. The unveiling was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony and a tour of the building.

That evening, Coalition leaders attended a Gala Dinner at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington DC, hosted by Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi. The festive evening brought together leaders of Washington’s governmental, diplomatic, corporate, and social circles,  as well as prominent Hungarians who have recently made an impact on American life.

On October 17, the Embassy of Hungary and the Hungarian American organizations opened a commemorative exhibition on 1956 co-sponsored by them at the United States Capitol.

Speakers at the opening included Dr. Réka Szemerkényi, Ambassador of Hungary; Ferenc Koszorús, Chairman of the Board of the American Hungarian Federation; Stefan Fedor, President, American Hungarian Heritage House; and Maximilian Teleki, President of the Hungarian American Coalition. Keynote speeches were delivered by The Honorable Miklós Seszták; The Honorable Dr. János Horváth; Dr. Jenő Megyesy, 56er, Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary; John O’Sullivan, President of the Danube Institute; and Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

In his opening remarks, Max Teleki stated: “The great wave of immigration following the 1956 Hungarian revolution and freedom fight not only revitalized the Hungarian American community, but also provided a group of highly committed and passionate advocates in the U.S. to speak on behalf of those Hungarians who suffered under reasserted Communist rule.” He quoted the words of Hungarian writer-politician László Dobos in describing the ‘56 generation: “This generation took with it a hate and fear of dictatorship and violence; a deep sense of patriotism; the acceptance of responsibility for its homeland; and an abiding desire for freedom.”

Photos of the above-mentioned events are displayed at the Coalition’s website. For more information on events organized in Washington D.C., you can check the list of events organized by the Embassy of Hungary here; you will also find a collection of 1956 commemorations across the U.S. at The Hungary Initiatives Foundation’s homepage.

If you are interested in programs held in Budapest commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, you can download the program booklet here

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