Ladies and Gentlemen, I have to speak Hungarian, because this is an official state ceremony.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Steven F. Udvar-Házy and your wife Christine,
A nation of just fifteen million, which accounts for a mere 0.2 per cent of the world’s population, keeps careful account of what it has given the world – as if this were a kind of justification or explanation for its very existence. Whenever we Hungarians see an airship, a ballpoint pen, an espresso machine or a Rubik’s Cube in a toyshop, we cannot help straightening up with pride and saying to ourselves: “Well then, this would not have been possible without us Hungarians”. In the same way, we keep account of each and every Hungarian who has made us proud. With their legendary careers, they can serve as role models for more and more generations of Hungarians to grow up with a healthy feeling of self-respect and vitality. The success stories of our American heroes helped us to survive forty years of communism. They gave us inspiration and encouragement. They testified to what we would be capable of, once the Soviets left the country, once we were living in a free world, and once we would be able to develop the talent latent within us – just as did one young Hungarian who fell in love with aviation at an air display in communist Hungary in the nineteen-fifties. After the ’56 freedom fight, he took this passion – which was all about hope and freedom – with him to America. Steven Ferencz Udvar-Házy not only uncovered talent in himself, but from a young age he did everything he could to make it blossom. We, however, can not only learn from him how to experience a passion for aviation, but also how one can work effectively towards a goal. We are grateful that we Hungarians can claim this special career as our own, and that we can record it among our own stories – the stories which we have every reason to be proud of. And we are grateful for the fact that we can feel at home if life takes us to the world’s most popular aviation museum – for which it is again you that the world can thank. Please accept from us with our affection the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary, for the work with which you have written your name into the history of aviation, and with which you have become one of those famous and influential Hungarians who enhance our country’s reputation. God bless you!