Washington, DC – Mrs. Enikő Molnár Basa, Coalition Board member, Hungarian American literary historian, Executive Director of the American Hungarian Educators Association (AHEA), and external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Mrs. Éva Galvácsy Kovács, leader and representative of our member organization St. Stephen of Hungary Catholic Community Washington DC and Vicinity were honored, respectively, with a Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit (Magyar Érdemrend Lovagkeresztje) and a Golden Cross of Merit (Magyar Arany Érdemkereszt) by the Hungarian government.
Ambassador Szabolcs Takács, Mr. Gabe Rozsa, Mrs. Éva Galvácsy Kovács, Mrs. Enikő Molnár Basa and Matthew G. Boyse, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs on March 8, 2021 at the Kossuth House in Washington D.C.
Mrs. Molnár Basa was originally honored last year on March 15, and Mrs. Galvácsy Kovács on October 28, 2020, but, due to the pandemic, both ladies received their awards only on March 8, 2021 at the Kossuth House presented by Ambassador Szabolcs Takács on behalf of János Áder, President of Hungary. Mrs. Molnár Basa, was honored in recognition of her decades of outstanding service in preserving the Hungarian American identity and supporting Hungarian scholarship recipients coming to the United States; while Mrs. Kovács was recognized for her decades of outstanding service in preserving the identity of the Hungarian Catholic community in Washington.
Enikő Molnár Basa was born on September 7, 1939 in Huszt (which was a part of Hungary again during WWII, otherwise a part of Ukraine since 1920). Her parents, who were from Debrecen, were both medical doctors. They fled Hungary after WWII, and after spending five years in Germany, they emigrated to the United States, arriving in 1950, when Enikő was just 11. After moving around quite a bit, the Molnár family settled in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Enikő and her two sisters attended high school. She attended Trinity College in Washington, D.C., which is where she met her husband, Péter Basa, a participant in the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 (as an young medical student he worked as a medic and ambulance driver).
Enikő received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After teaching for several years teaching at universities in the Washington, DC area, she took a position at the Library of Congress. Currently, she is the holder of the Kluge Staff Fellowship at the Library working on what will eventually be a book examining Hungarian literature from the point of view of its political and social commitment. Dr. Basa is the author of Sándor Petofi in the Twayne World Author Series (G.K. Hall) and editor of volumes in the series on Mihály Vitéz Csokonai, Imre Madách, Kálmán Mikszáth, and Ferenc Molnár, as well as Dezső Kosztolányi and Miklós Radnóti prepared for the series but published by the Finnisch Ugrisches Seminar at the University of Munich. She also edited and contributed to Hungarian Literature in the Review of National Literatures series. Author of several articles on Hungarian and comparative literature, she has also been active in Hungarian and literary professional organizations, presenting papers at a wide variety of venues. She is the Executive Director of the American Hungarian Educators Association, and received the Presidential Gold Medal of Hungary from Árpád Göncz in 1997.
Enikő has long been the “guardian angel” of our John N. Lauer Leadership Training Program (LTP) participants as well, and our interns along with our members are extremely grateful for her continuous support. To learn more about Enikő’s life and accomplishments, a Memory Project interview that was recorded in May 2016 at Enikő’s home in Chevy Chase, MD is available here.
Éva Galvácsy Kovács came to the United States in 1969 with her family from Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), where, at the time, dictatorship and minority oppression became increasingly intertwined. Éva’s professional career was also interrupted by emigration, she had to stop her studies in economics that she could only continue many years later, so by the time she graduated from university she was already a chief accountant.
Éva and her family became more intensely involved with the local Hungarian community in 1974, when the Hungarian scout troop in Washington, DC was formed. She helped the scouts’ work for years. She naturally supported the initiatives aimed at preserving the Hungarian mother tongue and undertook Hungarian language education. As a result of her many years of dedicated service, she managed to pass on the Hungarian language and culture of Transylvania not only to his family, but also to many young Hungarians in America.
Later, after joining the Hungarian Communion of Friends and before 1989, she actively helped organizing visits, lectures and performances in Washington, DC for many Hungarian writers, folk artists, linguists, musicologists and opposition leaders from the Carpathian Basin.
For decades, Éva has played a major role in organizing Hungarian masses and Hungarian community life and programs related to the Catholic Church in Washington, DC. In 2005, she took over the secular leadership role of the St. Stephen of Hungary Catholic Community Washington DC and Vicinity, which has a history of more than half a century, and has since taken charge of the secular tasks necessary for the survival and functioning of the community. Today, Éva continues to successfully lead the Hungarian Catholic Community in the Washington DC area with her quiet, persistent work, as a result of which, despite the challenges of the lack of a permanent priest, Hungarian Catholic Masses can be held once a month in the largest Catholic church in the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where the Chapel of Our Lady of Hungary was inaugurated in 2015.