Washington, DC – Ferenc Mádl, President of the Republic of Hungary, bestowed the Presidential Medal of Merit today upon Edith Lauer at his Budapest office. Mrs. Lauer, a founder of the Hungarian American Coaliton and currently its Chairman of the Board Emerita, was one of last year’s awardees, but received the medal today along with this year’s honorees. At the ceremony, Mrs. Lauer was lauded as an outstanding representative of the Hungarian emigre community, representing Hungarian interests through her consistent involvement in public affairs in the U.S. and in cultural and educational institutions and foundations.
After emigrating in 1956, Mrs. Lauer paid her first return visit to Hungary and Transylvania in 1970. In 1990, she was the founding president of the Hungarian American Coalition, an umbrella organization of Hungarian American groups. The Coalition quickly gained repute among Washington decision-makers as a reliable source of information. During the Clinton Administration, Mrs. Lauer was among those frequently consulted by the White House on Hungarian-American relations and Hungarian minority issues. The Hungarian American Coalition built up a network of relationships with U.S. diplomats serving in Hungary and the surrounding countries, and with State Department officials and members of Congress and the U.S. Senate. Between 1994 and 1998, under Mrs. Lauer’s leadership, the Coalition organized innovative conferences and seminars on the most salient issues affecting Hungarian-American issues: among them, “Promoting European Security and Integration: The Role of National Minorities” in Washington, D.C. and “Hungary in an Expanded NATO: Benefits and Responsibilities” in Budapest, Debrecen and Miskolc.
As Chairman of the Board Emerita, Edith Lauer continues to advocate the interests of Hungarian minorities in Washington, and is a supporter of many minority institutions and cultural initiatives in the countries surrounding Hungary. Mrs. Lauer and her family support, among other institutions, the Hungarian Reformed Kollégium in Cluj/Kolozsvár, Romania; the Papiu High School in Tirgu Mures/Marosvásárhely, Romania; the Vetési László Foundation for Small Communities; the “Korunk” magazine in Cluj; and the Székelyföld Society. She is a supporter of Slovakia’s Madách-Posonium Publishing House and the Posonium Literary Prize, founded in 2000. Mrs. Lauer’s family also provides scholarships for several dozen students throughout the region, to enable them to continue their education.
Mrs. Lauer is the recipient of numerous other distinctions in addition to the Presidential Medal of Merit. Among these, the Hungarian Heritage Prize, which Mrs. Lauer received in March 2002, is perhaps the most telling recognition of her selfless activities on behalf of Hungarians.
Edith Lauer escaped Hungary as a young girl in 1956. Her memories of the spirit and legacy of 1956, of the revolution’s principled and moral nature and the fairness of its demands for a just society remain her primary motivation to this day. Commenting upon the Presidential Medal, Zsolt Szekeres, President of the Hungarian American Coalition, stated: The Coalition is proud of the high-level recognition of its founding President, and expresses its wish that Mrs. Lauer will continue her diplomatic and sponsorship activities on behalf of the cultural and educational development of the Hungarian nation, as well as the representation of Hungarian interests in the U.S. and Europe, for many years to come.