Jimmy Carter Habitat Quotes
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One of the most surprisingly controversial presidential decisions I made was to return the Crown of Saint Stephen to the people of Hungary. It was said to have been given by the Pope in the year 1000 to Stephen, the first king of Hungary, as a symbol of political and religious authority and was worn by more than fifty kings when they were vested with power. A distinctive feature was that the cross on top was bent. As Soviet troops invaded Hungary, toward the end of the Second World War, some Hungarians delivered to American troops the crown and other royal regalia, which were subsequently stored in Fort Knox alongside our nation’s gold. The Soviets still dominated Hungary when I announced my decision to return the crown. There was a furor among Hungarian-Americans and others, and I was denounced as accepting the subservience of the occupied nation. I considered the crown to be a symbol of the freedom and sovereignty of the Hungarian people. I returned it in January 1978, stipulating that the crown and insignia must be controlled by Hungarians, carefully protected, and made available for public display as soon as practicable. A duplicate of the crown was brought to The Carter Center as a gift for me in March 1998 and is on display in our presidential museum. Rosalynn and I led volunteers to build Habitat houses in Vác, Hungary, in 1996, and we were treated as honored guests of the government and escorted to the Hungarian National Museum to see the crown and the stream of citizens who were going past it, many of them reciting a prayer as they did so. We were told that more than 3 million people pay homage to the crown each year. A few years later it was moved to its permanent home, in the Hungarian Parliament Building.
Jimmy Carter (A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety)