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Wolfowitz Praises U.S.-Hungarian Partnership for Freedom

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2003 – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz praised the U.S.-Hungarian military partnership during a statue dedication ceremony Oct. 11 honoring a Revolutionary War-era Hungarian patriot who had fought and died for America.

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U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz shakes hands with Istvan Nyirjesy, president of the Michael Kovats Memorial Committee, right, as Hungarian Minister of Defense Ferenc Juhasz applauds the bronze statue of Hungarian patriot Col. Michael Kovats de Fabricy during an unveiling and dedication ceremony at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington Oct. 11. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Wolfowitz saluted Col. Michael Kovats de Fabricy as "a true hero" and "a man who gave his life for American freedom." Hungarian Ambassador to the U.S. Andras Simonyi, Hungarian Minister of Defense Ferenc Juhasz and other senior officials also attended the ceremony.

The Hungarian cavalryman and his horse were both killed at the Battle of Charleston, S.C., in 1779.

The unveiling ceremony, held at the Hungarian Embassy here, revealed a bronze statue of a mortally wounded Kovats seated on his dying horse. Kovats is holding aloft the flag of the 13 American Colonies.

Kovats' sacrifice and the efforts of the more than 140 Hungarians who'd also fought on America's side during the Revolutionary War demonstrate that the United States and Hungary "have been partners for freedom for more than two centuries."

And today, the deputy defense secretary pointed out, U.S. and Hungarian troops serve side by side in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and other places "to maintain the peace, to protect human rights and to foster international cooperation."

Wolfowitz recalled Hungary's gallant but unsuccessful attempt to free itself from Soviet rule in 1956. Afterward, he continued, many Hungarians immigrated to the United States to find a better life.

There have been myriad Hungarian-American success stories since the Revolutionary War, Wolfowitz declared. He acknowledged Hungarian "genius" in the fields of electronics, nuclear engineering, aviation, computers and automotive technology.

"Hungarians or people of Hungarian descent," Wolfowitz pointed out, "have won Nobel Prizes in every field in which the prize is awarded."

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 heralding the collapse of the Soviet empire, Wolfowitz noted that Americans rejoiced "to see the rebirth of freedom in Hungary and elsewhere in Central Europe."

Today, Wolfowitz continued, Hungary and other former Eastern Bloc nations like Poland and the Czech Republic are NATO members. This, he added, has created "a bridge" of understanding between Western and Eastern Europe.

"Russia itself is in a brand-new, positive relationship with the rest of Europe and with the United States," the deputy defense secretary pointed out.

Hungary has proven also "to be an important and capable member of the international coalition that is united in the global fight against terrorism," Wolfowitz said, again noting Kovats' supreme sacrifice for freedom during the Revolutionary War.

"The love of freedom and the commitment to a peaceful and stable world will forge even stronger" U.S.-Hungarian ties in coming years, he concluded.

Kovats, who'd been a Hussar, or cavalryman, in his native Hungary, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1777 to offer his services to the American Colonies fighting for freedom and independence from England.

The Hungarian declared in a letter to Ambassador to France Benjamin Franklin:

"Golden freedom cannot be purchased with yellow gold. I beg your Excellency to grant me a passport and a letter of recommendation to the most benevolent (Continental) Congress.

"At last, awaiting your gracious answer, I have no wish greater than to leave forthwith, to be where I am needed most, to serve and die in everlasting obedience to Your Excellency and the Congress. Most faithful unto death."

Impressed by the performance of Kovats' mounted troops, Gen. George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army, and the Congress soon took steps to enhance the American cavalry. Therefore, Kovats is known as the father of the U.S. cavalry.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMembers of the First California Hussar Regiment, a volunteer group based near San Francisco, pose in their circa 1848 Hungarian Hussar uniforms during the unveiling and dedication ceremony of the bronze statue of Hungarian patriot Col. Michael Kovats de Fabricy at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington Oct. 11. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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