Iraqis have endured oppression for decades. They now face the prospect of more tyranny unless the United States stays the course (and even if we do, success is likely to be fleeting). Many Americans are tired of hearing about Iraq, but are we ready to insert our earplugs when those who have trusted in us plead for help as terrorists brutally attack them?
On Nov. 4, 1956 -- 50 years ago this Saturday -- shortwave radio operators around the world heard calls for help. Radio Free Kossuth broadcast from Budapest: "Today at daybreak Soviet troops attacked our capital with the obvious intent of overthrowing the legal democratic Hungarian government." Three hours later the station gave a repeated signal for one minute: "SOS! SOS! SOS!" Then it went off the air.
Another Hungarian station, Radio Free Dunapentele, reported the Russian attack and added, "It is possible that our broadcasts will soon stop and you will hear us no more. We will only be silent when they have killed us." Radio Csokonay broadcast a reading of the Gettysburg Address: "The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract." Soon both stations were silent.
The Hungarian rebellion against communism was a brave but probably unrealistic effort. By Nov. 5 only a few radio stations held out. A voice on Radio Roka was urgent: "We need help! Because of lack of medicines and military help many people are dying. We need food and arms."
One station, Radio Rakoczi, was still alive on Nov. 6: "We appeal to the conscience of the world. Why are only the interests of the great powers important, why are not our hospitals, schools and national treasures important, and why can these be sacrificed to bombs and fire? Why cannot you hear the call for help of our murdered women and children?"
The station stayed on the air until Nov. 7: "In the name of all honest Hungarians we appeal to all honest men in the world. Must we appeal once again? Do you love liberty? So do we. We have wounded who have given their blood for the sacred cause of liberty, but we have no bandages, no medicine. And what shall we give to our children who are asking for bread? The last piece of bread has been eaten."
Later that day the broadcast grew faint: "We are fighting against overwhelming odds. Possibly our radio will soon be annihilated. Continue to listen to our broadcasts. As soon as we have time to come from the firing line, we will continue." At 3 p.m. Budapest time came one last announcement: "Soviet tanks and planes are attacking. The battle continues with unflagging violence." That was the end.