Multi-generational Celebration – the Commemoration of October 23 in 2022

by Borbála Görög, illustration by Márton Huszár, photos by István Domonkos Sr.

When I learnt that I am responsible for the October 23 commemoration, as the new Cultural Chair, I had one thing on my mind: let’s involve the youth, let’s show them the spirit of 1956. Let them feel the excitement of those young folks who gathered on the streets 66 years ago. It is now their responsibility to cherish and pass on the importance of the good fight, the fight for freedom. It turned out that there was a similar event (Meeting of generations) held on the 50th anniversary of the revolution. With the tireless help of Katalin Pearman I was able to see some footage of that event and she also led me to those speakers who took part in it. The ‘56-survivors whom I contacted were kind enough to assure me about their attendance at the commemoration and supported me throughout the planning. I also needed some people who represent the younger generation. Who were brave enough to share their thoughts and feelings about events that they have not been part of. Because our generation is lucky enough to think that freedom is a fundamental human right. 

The commemoration was held on Sunday, October 23 afternoon, at the Community Center of St. Matthew church, right after the Hungarian mess. That day even the sun came out. Five of our ‘56-survivor Hungarian friends took the stand as speakers: Ilona Szablya, Mária Kramár, Márta Horváth Boros, Zsuzsa Ördög and János Szablya Jr. They were joined by six members of the István Fekete Scouts group. Some of these scouts are the same age now as a couple of survivors were when the uprising happened. I would like to introduce them and thank them for their courage. Lilla Polner, Emese Orbán, Máté Polner, Ádám Polner, Péter Polner and Márton Huszár, the KCsP scholar from Hungary.

At the opening ceremony of the event, the scouts, led by Csaba Orbán saluted the ‘kopjafa’ and laid a tri-color bouquet in front of it. It was followed by the Hungarian national anthem. Then we listened to the recital of two poems by Emese Orbán and Péter Polner. Their young and passionate voices transitioned us to the multi-generational discussion. During which we all had to answer some thought-provoking questions such as ‘what does freedom mean for us’, or ‘would we participate in the revolution if it happened today’, and ‘what items would we put in our backpacks if we had to leave our home’. Through their answers, the survivors shared their stories, feelings and memories about the October events. The answers of the young speakers were perfectly chiming in with these remembrances. I am certain we have all been moved by these speeches and for a moment we could relive the essence of the revolution. The gemstone of the commemoration was the performance of the Forgatós folk dance ensemble. They showed dances from the Mezőségi region. Their beautifully detailed traditional costumes and smiling faces truly brought to life the renowned Hungarian spirit. Closing the program I chose to sing a song called ‘Ha én rózsa volnék’, which was, and is an important symbol of the Hungarian revolution. 

I would like to hereby thank all those who were kind enough to help this event come to life. The heroes of ‘56, who are still among us, the fierce young members of the community and everyone who took part in this gathering – in person or spiritually.

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