This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian revolution. For twelve days in 1956, Hungarians rose up against their Soviet Communist occupiers, storming jails and freeing political prisoners.
Hungarian radio stations broadcast the once-censored music of Mozart and Beethoven. And, says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "They imagined a new future for Hungary, where they and their fellow citizens would determine their own future in freedom without facing foreign oppression or fearing the midnight knock of the secret police":
"For twelve days there was hope, but then came the response and it was terrible and ferocious. Soviet troops and tanks rumbled into Hungary, killing tens of thousands of people and condemning thousands of others to Siberian gulags [prison colonies]."
Two-hundred-thousand Hungarian men, women and children fled to Western countries, including the United States. But, says Ms. Rice, "Fifty years later, from the vantage point of history, we see that 1956 was also the beginning of something greater":
"In the Hungarian revolution, the world saw that hope was alive behind the Iron Curtain. In twelve days of freedom, impatient patriots throughout Eastern Europe drew inspiration for their own struggles and in the stories of oppression that Hungarian refugees told, free nations learned the true character of the Soviet regime and their will to resist it grew stronger."
By 1991, the Soviet Union had collapsed. Hungary and other former Soviet-occupied countries regained their independence. Today, Hungary is a model of the security, prosperity, and success that come with freedom and democracy. "In Hungary's journey toward freedom we see that justice can be delayed," says Ms. Rice, "but it cannot be denied":
"In Hungary's experience of freedom, we see that liberty unlocks the God-given potential of all people to rise as high as their talents will take them. And in the actions of the Hungarian democracy, we see that liberty, once achieved, is not a scarce resource to be hoarded. . . .It is the universal right of all humanity."
Secretary of State Rice says the U.S. and Hungary share "a common mission of ensuring freedom at home and defending freedom abroad. The memories of the fallen," she says, "demand no less of us."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.