A 1956 Hero Recognized as Vitéz*
This past September, Gyula Gyenis was awarded the Silver Star of the Order of Vitéz in a ceremony at the Long Island home of art collector Imre Pákh, Országos Kapitány (US National Captain) of the Vitéz Order. It was in recognition of his heroism in saving the life of a teenager caught in a crossfire that broke out during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 between the Freedom Fighters and the ÁVO in the park surrounding the National Museum in Budapest.
The young man had been innnocently riding his bicycle, not realizing that he was entering a war zone. He was shot in the thigh, and fell off his bicycle, screaming for help. Gyula, who witnessed the incident, crawled to reach the kid. He grabbed the boy and tried to drag him to safety. But the boy hung on to his beautiful bike for dear life as Gyula tried to pull him over a thin wire fence skirting the grass. Calling to his comrades to shoot above their heads, Gyula risked his own life, but managed to get the boy to safety where demonstrators by the thousands were massed in front of the Museum. Someone in authority reassured the boy that his bicycle would be stored in a safe place until he recovered. Then an ambulance took him to a hospital.
In those three or four days when the Revolution seemed to have succeeded, Gyula volunteered for the Nemzetőr (national guard) which was set up to keep order, and is still proud of his Nemzetőr ID number. He was assigned to a 4-member team to supervise the distribution of medicines and canned food arriving from the US to hospitals and the needy. He was there until the 18th of November. Warned by the super of his apartment building not to go home because the police were already waiting for him, he joined the last ambulance which they directed to deliver the remaining medicines to Tatabánya. From there, he left for the West on foot, two days later.
We are proud to number among opur friends a true hero, a Freedom Fighter who has been recognized for his bravery and courage. Isten áldjon, Gyula! Thank you for your example, and congratulations!
*The Vitéz Order was set up by Regent Horthy Miklós in 1920, but was outlawed under Communism. It was revived in 1992. Every year, they bring a wreath of remembrance to the 1956 Memorial in New York City on October 23rd, no matter what day of the week it falls on. This year's speaker at the event was Gyula Gyenis.