by Anne Lively
They wait in the thunder. The rain from intermittent showers drips from their bronze mustachios and their horses’ wild manes. Their terrible faces look out over the Carpathian Basin for the next enemy, the next threat to the Hungarian homeland. They are the sculpted heroes of Heroes Square in Budapest, the Magyar warriors who conquered and held the land in the ninth century, who repelled the Mongols after losing one half their people, and who submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ under their king Istvan.
Across the Danube, another group of warriors gathers under the clouds and flashes of lightning. They too are people to be reckoned with. As the thunder rolls closer and louder, they pray. They have brought paper-and-cardboard signs that will not stand up to a deluge, and they will not have their message dampened. But the rain, the lightning, will not turn them back. To look at, they are a far cry from the warlords sitting atop their fiery steeds in Heroes Square. Many are aging, most are women, some are teenaged girls and boys.
This is the Hungarian March for Life, the public witness of Hungarian Christians against abortion, the scourge that until recently took the lives of one half of all unborn Hungarians. That number, thanks to the efforts of pro-life heroes, has now come down to one third.
The sun comes out, an answer to prayer. It is increasingly hot now. One of the older men has recently survived a bout of fourth-stage cancer. The seven-kilometer march towards Heroes Square continues at a faster pace now, under the sun. It pauses occasionally for breaks to pray and sing at locations that are significant to the Hungarian people. The marchers are carefully following the route taken each year by the Budapest Gay Pride Parade. Step by step, they pray for God to take back their fallen land.
The Hungarian people are grieving another remembered event today. It is the day on which, at the close of World War I and the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles, they awoke to discover that their country was only one-third of its former size, and that most of them were living under foreign rule. Since that day the history of Hungary has been, until glasnost’, one of uninterrupted occupation and, for many, resistance. Recently the Hungarian president has, nearly single-handedly among the leaders of EU nations, thrown the weight of his government against the immigration policies of Merkel and others who allowed Europe to be deluged by Islamic immigrants with doubtful assimilation intentions. He declared Hungary to have a Christian culture that was worth, he implied, defending against the eradicationist policies of the EU. Nor is it just the EU and its member nations at issue here. Recall that as recently as 2006, the President of the USA, Barack Obama, said that his country was no longer “just a Christian nation,” making sure to include “nonbelievers” in the ranks of those he felt should enjoy public recognition as American co-religionists, and by implication, fully equal agents of influence on American culture.
The trail of marchers winds on, sometimes led by the rich contralto of a gospel singer from Georgia in the US, sometimes by the hauntingly beautiful voice of a young Hungarian woman singing the traditional hymns of her people. Someone reaches for the mic to give a testimony, an exhortation, someone else a prayer. People lounging on benches or walls on their holiday stare. “What is this about?” They crane to read the banner. “Oh. They are against abortion.” Not anger, really: sadness, confusion, a kind of despair. This is not the message they have been taught, not by the liberal social engineers of this generation, not by the Communists of the one before. “My grandmother had six abortions.” It is the legacy of existence under the Soviets, the testimony of how much this brave new world resembles the old.
Who is there for them in their confusion, in their darkness, in the grief that they have yet to understand, of losing half their people to the Marxist mentality of the state’s (or whatever other evil god’s) interests first, the human being’s never? I will tell you who. This handful of elderly and middle-aged men and ladies, youths and girls. They know what war is all about. And laying down lives. They will go home to confront their families, their schools, their places of work, their hospitals, their Parliament. And next year, perhaps only one fourth of their countrymen will be lost, or one fifth. And some year, perhaps none.
They are the true heroes of Heroes Square.
The heroes, above. Here to applaud them, is us, below.