When I was seven years old, the people of Hungary rose against their Soviet overlords and tried to win their country’s freedom. The Russians sent in their tanks to crush them.
This sparked an exodus of Hungarian refugees, many of whom came to settle in our part of New Jersey, where there was already a Hungarian community in the city of New Brunswick. Some of their kids wound up in my class at school, or in our church. They didn’t seem to have any trouble fitting in.
But eventually the stories came out. My friend Peter and his family literally had to crawl under a barbed wire fence, guarded by Soviet soldiers with machine guns, to escape from Hungary. Quite a few of them didn’t make it. But they took the risk because they wanted to be free–and that meant some making it all the way to America.
Eventually we all heard those stories. The thing was, communism is a horribly oppressive and depressing form of government under which to live. These people had experienced it first-hand and wanted no more of it. They couldn’t afford to wait until the Iron Curtain finally crumbled, circa 1990. Hungary’s a free country now, thanks be to God.
But I wonder what the children of these desperate, brave refugees–children who are now in their seventies or even older–make of America’s current flirtation with socialism, led by the Democrat Party. They must think we’ve lost our minds. Why would we Americans ever want to live under conditions that other people had to crawl through barbed wire barricades to get away from? “Have you forgotten what we told you?” they might ask. “Did you think we made it up? Freedom is better than socialism! So much better, it’s worth risking your life to get it!”
Don’t hold your breath waiting to hear that in a public school these days.