‘We Are the Homeland’
As part of the official celebrations of the anniversary of the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight abroad, Péter Szilágyi, deputy minister of international politics held a speech in Toronto, Canada, focusing on the national unity of Hungarians. The deputy minister took part in celebrations across Ontario to honour Hungarians who lived in the area during 1956 and to thank Canada for having offered a second home to many Hungarian 1956ers.
‘Being Hungarian is not only a matter of pride, but also a matter of duty. In 2022, we do not need to be heroes: we just have to take care of each other, because as humans, we can only be strong and immovable if we are part of a community that has unity,’ he stated after holding speeches at Queen’s Park on Friday and at the Hungarian House of Toronto on Sunday. He added that the homeland is not restricted to a country’s borders, as the homeland is the sum of communities and friends. ‘We are the homeland,’ he said.
He highlighted that in 2022 the symbolism of ’56 is not only prominent for Hungarians but for the entire world as well. He noted that the revolution attests that freedom is not an empty word, but the willingness of people to act, and the sacrifice of people who stopped Soviet tanks with plates and frying pans, making the Russians believe they were mines. He added that on 23 October 1956 the Hungarian freedom fighters achieved a miracle as they fought tooth and nail, often with improvised weapons. The entire world was shocked by the bravery of Hungarians—a miracle that we still live off today, even though we paid a hefty price for it, Mr Szilágyi underscored.
He reminded that around three thousand people died during the fighting, many of them still minors. About twenty thousand people were incarcerated and 228 were executed after the crushing of the revolt. He emphasised that around 170,000 people fled the country, with many settling in Canada and the United States. He added that the freedom fighters of 1956 gave as much to their nation as a person possibly can: their lives, or their homes. He said he believed ‘every nation needs points of reference wherever they are in the world. These points serve as guidance that drives us forward during hardships, and for us Hungarians, 1956 needs to be such a point of reference’, he added.
Niagara Falls Painted Red, White and Green
The minister underlined that currently people all over the world are facing hard times, with the war in Ukraine, the economic crisis, the changing climate, and the pandemic. He then quoted Cardinal József Mindszenty, who said ‘Hungarian hearts need to have love and unity’. Mr Szilágyi added that as long as people think like a community, they are able to overcome any obstacle and stay strong.
The deputy minister also added that during his four-day visit in Canada, a photo exhibition entitled ‘Freedom in Black and White,’ commemorating the freedom fight, also opened at the Metropolitan University of Toronto. On Sunday celebrations were held at the Hungarian Freedom monument, and for the third time in a row, Niagara Falls was lit up with Hungarian national colours on both the Canadian and American side as part of the commemorations.