John F. Kennedy said that Oct. 23, 1956, is a day "that will live forever in the annals of free men and nations." He continued: "It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly the eternal unquenchability of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds against success, whatever the sacrifice required."
That was the day the Hungarian people rose up against the Soviet-controlled regime and were crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. But it created a tear in the Iron Curtain, which finally came down in 1989 when Hungary destroyed the barbed-wire fence separating it from Austria.
Sacramento native Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis now heads to Budapest as U.S. ambassador to Hungary. She is well suited to the role, both as an accomplished businesswoman and philanthropist.
Diplomacy is not foreign to her; she served as a California state world trade commissioner and has been active in the World Council of Religions for Peace. Her husband, Markos Kounalakis, publisher of Washington Monthly, was a foreign correspondent who covered the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
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