The Hungarian Civil Legion of Honour was awarded for the first time on the 10th of February, 2012 in the KOGART House, where two most worthy individuals – József Szarvas, a medical doctor of Székesfehérvár and Emil Pásztor, former professor of linguistics of the Eszterházy Károly College – were honoured (the latter posthumously).
Dr. Szarvas carried out a tracheotomy in September 2009 on a motorcyclist by the roadside, using his own pocket knife and a ballpoint pen: the cyclist contracted acute allergic oedema from a wasp bite, and without the doctor’s intervention would have died in a matter of minutes.
Professor Pásztor proposed the notion of establishing the Museum of the Hungarian Language at the session of the Kazinczy Society of Sátoraljaújhely in 1994, then helped the realization of this unique project with relentless energy. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the completion of this Museum in Széphalom in 2008.
They each performed an act of symbolic value and significance. One was a life-saving act, while the other was one which assisted in the preservation of the dwindling treasures of Hungarian culture.
The material appearance of the decoration is also of symbolic character: the nice bronze coin, the work of the sculptor György Kiss, winner of the Munkácsy Prize, represents needy human hands in-between two helping hands on one side, with the honoured individual’s name and the year of the award on the other.
Even the genuine leather-bound honorary diploma, with its hanging seal and the gold-framed enamel badge, the work of Imre Molnár and Gábor Miticzky – both respected artists in their own craft – has symbolic value. Noble materials for noble purposes! They all have symbolic value, because they represent the liberation of this civic initiative from financial obligation, since the artists did not accept remuneration for their work.
In the KOGART House, where superb hospitality was granted, the solemn atmosphere was selflessly lifted by the harpist Csilla Gulyás and her two little pupils, as well as by the opera singer Ildikó Iván.
Following an introduction by the host Gábor Kovács, a wonderful speech was delivered by the philosopher Gábor Karsai, director of the World Servers Foundation. After this, writer Gábor Görgey spoke highly of the significance of Ars Humanica Hungarica Circle and the Hungarian Civil Legion of Honour. He emphasized that “Honour should at last be honoured”. Poet Zoltán Sumonyi presented a paper on the Batthyánys, entitled: “Batthyány, the Eternal Flame“.
The essential values of civil society were underlined by literary historian Béla Pomogáts: “a civil being has no uniform, does not join flags of any party, and remains a free and independent citizen. This, at the same time, is the basic condition and justification of civil existence.”
Publicist Imre Del Medico sent the following message to mark the occasion: “In our country, situated in the eastern part of Europe, civic organizations have not enjoyed the same esteem as in the western part, and yet they are indispensable factors in the existence, development and fulfilment of democracy. If I can allow myself a metaphor: civic organizations are the yeast of democracy’s bread. If there are not enough of them, the bread becomes stodgily flat or even inedible.”
At the fund-raising evening, about 150 eminent representatives of Hungarian intellectual and artistic life were present. A number of TV channels and newspapers reported on the event.