From the Banks of the Danube to the Banks of the Potomac
on December 08, 2009 at 12:51 PM EDT
During the first decade of the last century when Theodore Roosevelt sat in the Oval Office, my great-grandparents emigrated from Hungary to the United States. On Friday, in the first decade of this century, I sat in the Roosevelt Room – adorned with a portrait of the Rough Rider – for a fascinating meeting with the Prime Minister of Hungary.
While my mother remembers being regaled by her grandfather with tales of growing up on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, I must admit that I've never been to Hungary. (Because my last name is Hungarian, though, I often am stopped by total strangers who start speaking to me in that language!) Nevertheless, it was an honor to meet with Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, Ambassador Béla Szombati, and their colleagues – and fascinating to hear how this ally of ours is coping with the global financial and economic crisis.
I was particularly impressed by Prime Minister Bajnai’s courage in taking a series of painful but necessary steps over this past year to put Hungary on a solid economic and fiscal footing. And I must admit that it was a particular thrill to meet with the leader of the country from which my family came. It is a uniquely American journey through the generations – from immigrant to serving as a member of the President's cabinet, and keeping those ladders of opportunity open is what animates my public service and the work we do at the White House every day.
Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Hungary