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Email insights: Dennis Ross schools us on history, freedom in Hungary and America

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross is reaching out to those of Hungarian descent, as well as students of European history, in a new email celebrating the 167th anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War for Independence.

The family of the Senior Deputy Majority Whip is of Hungarian descent, and the email offers Ross’ support for Hungary and its citizens as they honor their freedom.

It also provides an opportunity for a quick lesson in European history.

The Kingdom of Hungary, originally part of the Empire of Austria, was seen as something of a “regnum independens” by the Hapsburgs, a separate Monarchy under Article X of the Diet of 1790. Nevertheless, most Hungarians maintained the Empire of Austria never constitutionally (and legally) included the Kingdom.

A series of uprisings throughout Europe during the mid-19th century led to the Hungarian revolution, which began March 15, 1848. The war for independence from Habsburg rule lasted more than 18 months, ending Oct. 4, 1849.

As a result, Hungary became an independent state, naming journalist Lajos Kossuth, a leader of the revolution, as governor-president.

March 15 has become one of three national holidays currently celebrated in Hungary and by its descendants.

“A defining moment in Hungary’s struggle for freedom and for the ideal of democracy started on this day in 1848, the Hungarian Revolution and War for Independence,” Ross says in the email. “This event changed the fate of Hungarians forever and I would like to send my best regards to those who are celebrating on the 167th anniversary.

Ross then repeated the words of Kossuth: “All for the people and all by the people. Nothing about the people without the people. That is Democracy, and that is the ruling tendency of the spirit of our age.”

As a U.S. politician, Ross — naturally — draws parallels between the war for Hungarian independence and America’s own continuing battles for freedom.

“Today we live in an age where these ideas are considered the foundations of our society,” he writes. “Just as America’s generations are thankful for our Founding Fathers, Hungary can be grateful for their ancestors’ will to make the ultimate sacrifice for a better future.

“We must honor those who had the courage to fight for freedom and democracy, and pay tribute to those who continue to fight for those values. I am proud to be an American with Hungarian roots and thankful to serve this great nation while celebrating the success of other nations, such as Hungary.”

Of course, few in Ross’ constituency of Central Florida might even be aware of the significance of March 15 to Hungarians worldwide. The population of those claiming Hungarian descent in Lakeland, the largest city in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, hovers somewhere under one percent.

The email proves one thing, however: it is always a good time for a little education on the freedom of others outside of our own.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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