Following is a press release received from the Organizing Committee of the Inauguration 2009 reception.
Blocks from the White House, over 100 guests gathered on January 19 for a Hungarian-American salute to Barack Obama and Joe Biden on the eve of their inauguration as the 44th U.S. President and Vice President. The Hungarian Reformed Federation of America hosted the non-partisan event at its headquarters – the Kossuth House – giving leaders of Hungarian-American organizations and the broader community a singular opportunity to meet and network with members of the incoming Administration and Congress.
HRFA Board Chairman and HHRF President László Hámos welcomed the guests, along with Ohio State Representative Peter Újvági and Hungarian American Coalition President Maximilian Teleki. In his opening remarks Mr. Hámos stated that the five co-organizers readily answered President Obama’s call for a national day of service as community service is the hallmark, the driving motive force behind all five sponsoring institutions: the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, the Hungarian American Coalition, the William Penn Association, and the Hungarian Communion of Friends.
Among the many honored guests who addressed the gathering were: Mrs. Annette Lantos, widow of Congressman Tom Lantos – accompanied by her daughter, Mrs. Annette Lantos Tillemann and four of her grandchildren – who delivered welcoming remarks in Hungarian. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, representing more than 16,000 Hungarian-Americans, spoke about her strong affiliation to the Ohio Hungarian-American community. Maryland State Senator Jim Rosapepe, a former US Ambassador to Romania, and Dr. Robert R. King, Chief of Staff of the House Foreign Relations Committee, reflected on their decades-long ties to the Hungarian community. Lastly, Jim Zogby pointed out the challenges still facing the country regarding equality and discrimination.
Representative Újvági chose this opportune moment to present the Kossuth House with an official copy of the text of Lajos Kossuth’s speech before the Ohio Legislature on February 16, 1852, wherein the great Hungarian patriot first coinedthe words “all for the people and all by the people” later paraphrased by Abraham Lincoln and evoked again by President Barack Obama.
Other honored guests included Ferenc Somogyi, Hungary’s Ambassador to the United States, Teresa Fedor, Ohio State Senator, and Kay King, Assistant to the Speaker of the House for Inter-Parliamentary Affairs. National leaders of the Irish-, Italian-, Polish-, Greek- and Georgian-American communities were warmly received. Aside from the Hungarian-American press, major Hungarian media covering the event included Hungarian TV (MTV), Duna TV and the Hungarian Telegraph Office (MTI).
In addition to being serenaded by a Hungarian band from Cleveland, guests dined on Hungarian delicacies served by the Georgetown restaurant “Old Europe;” Hungarian poppy seed and walnut rolls (“beigli”) handmade by Mária Kovács in Chicago; kolbász and Hungarian meatballs brought from New Brunswick, N.J. by George Dózsa; and Hungarian wine donated by István Flesch and Graystone Wine Imports. The organizers are especially grateful to Steven K. Hegedeos, Sándor Leitgab, and Judith Terézhalmy who volunteered to drive from Ohio and devote their talents to furnishing the suitable Hungarian musical atmosphere .
In answer to President Elect Obama’s Call to Service, the Organizing Committee also collected and delivered 17 cases of food products donated for the “Cans for the Cause” effort to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.
The organizers are particularly proud of the fact that the younger generation – college students and young professionals – have been part of the core organizational effort of the Hungarian American Salute to the 2009 Inauguration. Hereby, we would like to thank Lily Erdy for her outstanding design work on the invitation that became the keepsake for the commemoration. We would also like to thank Eszter Nagy and Kati Nagy for the endless hours contributed to local arrangements and the mailing of the invitations, and finally, for the Ujvagi and Bertalan second generation for making the registration a smooth and pleasant experience!