ASSOCIATED PRESS Sculptor Istvan Mate puts some finishing touches on his statue of former President Ronald Reagan, which will be unveiled in Budapest on Wednesday. The bronze statue will stand in the city’s Freedom Square.
By Gary P Jackson
As we continue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, and remember the positive impact we have world wide, her’s yet another tribute to one of the most monumental accomplishments of Reagan’s, the fall of the Soviet Union, and communism. as a major force.
From the Washington Times:
BUDAPEST — A larger-than-life (7 feet, 2 inches tall) bronze likeness of former President Ronald Reagan will stand in Freedom Square in this historic city – which he never visited, but which is the first in the former Eastern bloc to erect a statue in recognition of his role in dismantling the Soviet empire.
It will be unveiled by Prime Minister Victor Orban, leader of Hungary’s conservative government. The Hungarians, according to a recent government statement, “will always remember with gratitude the unchallengeable role played by the United States and President Reagan in bringing the Cold War to a conclusion, and for the fact that Hungary regained its sovereignty in the process.”
The powerful work by Hungarian sculptor Istvan Mate captures the president in mid-stride, as though walking across Szabadsag (Freedom Square) to the Hungarian parliament a couple blocks away. Along with the issuance of Reagan commemorative stamps by the Hungarian post office, the statue marks the centennial of the 40th president’s birth. In Prague, the Czechs are naming a downtown street after him, but no statue.
Mr. Mate never met Reagan but he based his likeness on photos. The artist recently told the Associated Press that he had to work quickly to finish the statue in time. The commission came from the Orban government (with support from the California-based Reagan Foundation) after the center-right Fidesz party’s victory in the April 2010 election. The socialist government that had been in power for the previous eight years was hardly likely to have ordered such a tribute – particularly since there already is a bust of Reagan in Budapest, unveiled less than five years ago.
A large screen has been set up to show scenes from Reagan’s life during Wednesday’s unveiling, at which former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Edwin Meese, Reagan’s attorney general, were due to speak.
But some noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who famously hailed the former communist satrapies as “the New Europe” for supporting the Iraq War (as opposed to “the Old Europe,” which did not), was not on the list of U.S. guests.
A statue to Reagan in Budapest is likely to irritate the Russians, but there has been no comment out of Moscow. The Hungarians have a history of angering the Russians. There was the abortive uprising in 1956, of course, and after the Cold War the Hungarians and other East Europeans angered the Russians by the alacrity with which they joined NATO, the old enemy.
It is not lost on ordinary Hungarians that the Reagan statue will have a far less popular neighbor in the shape of a 40-foot-high obelisk commemorating Soviet troops who died in Hungary fighting the Nazis during World War II. The Hungarians would like it moved to a less prominent location, but that would deeply offend Russia.
The week’s schedule of events in Budapest requires a delicate choreography of U.S. high-level visitors because the day following the unveiling Ms. Rice’s successor will also be in town. In Budapest for talks with Mr. Orban, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is also expected to attend the opening Thursday of an institute of human rights named after the late Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who was born in Hungary.
Make sure you check out Madeleine McAulay’s essay The Fight for Liberty, Democracy, and Freedom about Ronald Reagan and the fall of the Berlin Wall.