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Commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Remarks on the Commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

R. Nicholas Burns , Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Benjamin Franklin Room, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC
February 13, 2006

(Remarks as prepared)

Ladies and Gentleman it is a great pleasure and honor to welcome you to the Benjamin Franklin Room here at the State Department.

We are grateful for the presence our host, the Honorable Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State, and the distinguished guests who will be addressing us today: Congressman Tom Lantos of California, Ambassador Andreas Simonyi, His Eminence Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Reverend Wilson Gunn, and Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein. I also want to welcome Congressman Don Manzullo of Illinois, and representatives of our two newest friends in the community of democracies, Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad of Afghanistan and Charge Said Shihab Ahmad of the Embassy of Iraq.

The State Department is very proud to assist the Government of Hungary in commemorating the 50th Anniversary in 2006 of the Hungarian people's heroic struggle for freedom and independence in 1956. We hope that today's ceremony will provide the impetus for a series of events throughout America this year to remember the courage of these Hungarian Patriots who rose up against a colossal force -- the Red Army -- to proclaim their resolve to be free.

You will note that the American and Hungarian flags adorn the podium. There are two other flags here that tell the story of 1956 and 2006. In the center is the flag of the Patriots of 1956, original to that time, with the center of that flag, the red star of Communism, removed to symbolize the dream of the Hungarian people for a future in freedom. The other flag displayed in the flag of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- because the dream of 1956 was achieved on that great day in 1999 when the Hungarian people turned history on its head and became our Ally in the greatest democratic alliance in history -- NATO. For this reason we were enormously pleased to agree with Ambassador Simonyi to host this event today.

It is now my honor to introduce Secretary of State Rice. I want to say how proud I am, and how proud I know all of the 50,000 men and women here and overseas in the State Department are to work for her. When we reflect on her life and career, we understand that they have been all about freedom and liberty. Freedom for African-Americans when she was a young girl -- a cause that continues today. And the cause of freedom that has been the constant midpoint of her professional career -- from her days as a Soviet specialist at the White House when communism came tumbling down to the renewed cause of freedom in the Middle East and around the world that is at the heart of her stewardship of American diplomacy today.

If any of us in the United States can feel the sense of commitment and energy and pain and loss, but ultimately of triumph, of Hungary's patriots in 1956, I suspect it is she.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State.

Released on February 13, 2006


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