On April 16, the Hungarian Holocaust Remembrance Day, Deputy State Secretary Gergely Prőhle, Members of Congress, the Lantos family, representatives of various Embassies -including from Wallenberg's native Sweden and Israel - and friends of Hungary gathered in the Capitol to pay tribute to Wallenberg's heroic efforts in saving the lives of thousands amidst inhumanity.
Click here to view the photo gallery of the event.
Deputy State Secretary Gergely Prőhle, who is visiting Washington DC specifically for the Wallenberg Centennial events, emphasized that Hungary will always remember those who stood up against inhumanity, and will never forget the past. Hungary today stands up against intolerance exactly becasue of the historical lessons learned.
Mrs. Annette Lantos, the wife of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, who survived the Hungarian Holocaust thanks to Wallenberg's heroism, thanked the Hungarian government for all the efforts it has made to spread public awareness about the Holocaust and for the series of programs around the Wallenberg Centennial Year.
Congressman Kucinich, Co-Chair of the Hungarian Caucus, said that Wallenberg's deeds still stand as a shining example for all who are committed to fighting for the cause of human rights. Congressman Dan Burton, Chairman of the House Europe Subcommittee, recalled his recent CODEL trip to Budapest, during which fellow members of Congress paid homage to Wallenberg's deeds at a wreath-laying ceremony at one of two statues in Budapest dedicated to the Swedish diplomat.
Congressman Meeks, ranking member of the House Europe Subcommittee, who spearheaded the Congressional effort to grant Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the United States Congress can give to a civilian, announced that the Wallenberg Centennial Bill (H.R.3001) had the necesary number of co-sponsors to pass the House. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives soon after the ceremony without a single "no" vote. Rep. Meeks also reminded those present that many Hungarians who helped save lives during the Holocaust remain nameless but should be remembered.
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, member of the Hungarian Caucus, thanked Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Foreign Minister János Martonyi, and the Hungarian Embassy for making a special effort to use the Wallenberg Centennial as an educational moment. Finally, Congressman Andy Harris, member of the Hungarian Caucus, and the only Member of Congress of Hungarian descent, presented through his personal family history how an individual who risks his own life to save others can make a difference.He also cited the Hungarian Col. Ferenc Koszorús as a Hungarian example of rescuers who joined Wallenberg’s efforts to save innocent lives.
To conclude the ceremony, the group walked over to the Wallenberg bust in the Capitol Visitors' Center where Mrs. Lantos recalled the story of the joint effort behind erecting a a lasting memorial for the "man amidst inhumanity."