Nemzeti Vágta a Hősök terén, Budapest 2015. Szeptember 18-20.

PÁL ROSTÁS, THE HISTORICAL FIGURE OF THE NATIONAL GALLOP

Untouchable for swords - it took 30 bullets to take down the Hungarian hussar hero

 

This year's iconic figure for the National Gallop, the largest Hungarian festivity of equestrian traditions as well as Hungarian towns and villages is Pál Rostás, a private of the 5th Radetzky Hussar Regiment, who died heroically in 1813. He is the only Hungarian hussar who has a sculpture in Europe. Besides, his memorial was erected by his own fellow-soldiers just a few years after his death.

The Napoleonic wars ended in Europe 200 years ago. The Hungarian hussar regiments played an active role in the decade-long fights against the French troops that devastated the entire continent. For example, they had a clash with them near Trieste, along the Vipava-Gorizia road on October 3, 1813.

Private Pál Rostás and his hussar regiment were engaged in this encounter. His small patrol party was ambushed by a French unit outnumbering them several times over. While his wounded comrades were retreating, Rostás and his four fellow hussars held back the French attack for about a quarter of an hour. Bleeding from thirty bullet wounds, the Hungarian hussar kept fighting against Napoleon's sixty infantry soldiers and died heroically while his comrades were saved.

His fellow hussars from the regiment cherished the memory of Pál Rostás' legendary military deed and first erected a sepulchre for him in 1836, then raised a full-body statue in his honour in Budanje, near Vitava and the current Slovenia-Italy border. The funds to build the statue were raised by his comrades and fellow regiment members. The monument could not completely withstand the test of centuries but the pieces lying in the museum's stone storage were restored, and Hungarian Minister of Defence Csaba Hende and his Slovenian counterpart Roman Jakic unveiled Pál Rostás' statue restored by public subscription in 2013.

Pál Rostás' heroic sacrifice sets us the most majestic example of hussar and military virtues: the voluntary sacrifice to save the life of comrades. Rostás survived the first French ambush without any wounds while his fellow-hussars suffered severe injuries. He could have retreated leaving his companions in the hands of the enemy but the consideration for his compatriots and his feeling of comradeship overruled the instinct to save his own life. Pál Rostás didn't want to be a hero, he didn't want to die, he just did what his conscience told him. That's why he could become an eternal example for the comrades he saved and for the people of our modern age as well.

Besides Pál Rostás' heroic deed, the actions of his fellow-hussars in the regiment are also exemplary: 20 years later they came together and visited the former battleground to erect a sepulchre for their saviour. Another 10 years later they commemorated the figure of their fellow-hussar with a monument.

The integrity and strength of a community is ensured by mutual respect, love and attention for each other, which enables the members of such a communities to preserve and employ their individual talents for the common good. Private Pál Rostás and his fellow hussars are the examples of this mentality in the National Gallop of 2015.

 

14. September 2015.