Dear Members of the Ludovika Community, Dear Colleagues, Dear Students!
We are a couple of days away from the National Holiday of March 15th. For the second time in a row, this remembrance day will be excessively quiet, deprived of its community character. It’s a depressing feeling, but not entirely unprecedented: this nation celebrated different types of March 15th already, celebrations were forbidden, tolerated, it fell on wartime days, it was loud, elevated, hopeful, divisive. Now a global pandemic is creating an opportunity for us to retreat into our home to think about it: what does, if anything, March 15th mean for us?
15th of March is a national holiday of legends, not so far away as to know too little about it, but far away enough that not every phase is captured by intrusive indiscretion. Among the legends, stands out Sándor Petőfi , who like all national heroes, is sculpture-like for next generations, alien and difficult to embrace. Allow me to speak about Petőfi with the words of Sándor Márai:
“Petőfi was a legend for seventy-eighty years. A wonderful hero of a nation’s mythology; a bit of a demigod, a bit of a compulsory school reading. The youth of three Hungarian generations were immersed in dreaming about him and were enthusiastic about the example: the poet who falls at the "field of freedom" with a sword in his hand, redeeming all he promised in his poems. He had a dedicated place in the minds and consciousness of generations like in world literature in general. New stars emerged in the Hungarian sky; but they all spined around him. In Petőfi’s phenomenon, there is something superhuman. This man, who was a writer at the age of twenty-six, was a poet, a leader of political and literary movements, a father, a district judge, a major, a national hero, and on top of all that, he was a particularly educated self-taught person who read and spoke in foreign languages, and last but not least he was a genius, Petőfi lived and was dead: he has no example in world literature. ”
In the age of lurching of statues and compulsory readings, it is especially important to see our heroes as they really were: fallible people who made the right choices in the difficult hours brought to them by history: they advanced the cause of their community by setting an example through tenacious construction or self-sacrifice, and by this choice they became exceptional. And although these days there might be fewer opportunities for us to be heroic, there are even more opportunities to work, while we also get plenty of hardships, as well.
I thank you all for working honourably to build and strengthen the University, often in the midst of difficult work or home conditions. If you can, please read a poem of Petőfi next Monday (or even “murmur” as Gyula Illyés advised). Sándor Márai in his essay cited above, written in 1937, rejoiced that the main figure of this remembrance day, deeply experienced by many, the poet, is the living reality of the present, and not some kind of fairy-tale character enshrouding in the mythical mist.
Almost as many years have passed since Márai put his thoughts on paper, as he was separated from Petőfi at the time when he wrote them. But the image with which he closes his lines is just as valid today, and can be experienced by us. Let us see the poet, "as if he were still standing in front of the (National) Museum, on the pedestal, above a crowd to which he belonged with all his faith, and that stood in the mud and stared at the man pointing from the mud to the sky."
Please welcome and watch the recording of the festive program of the Ludovika University Stage and Ludovika Show Choir, consisting of students of our University, which is attached to this letter and can be started by clicking on the picture. I wish you all a heartfelt remembrance day!