Wed 17 Oct 2007
Finding one’s place in society and discovering one’s identity has been the task of every individual and generation and the Children of the Danube have been no exception. Many of my readers can identify with that because they have experienced the same in exploring their own family heritage. The first volume of this trilogy, The Pioneers dealt with the lives and experiences of the first three generations of my family in Hungary, which was a reflection on the shared history of all of the Children of the Danube. They took the same risks, faced similar tragedies, overcame countless obstacles, laughed and loved, mourned and cried; toiled in a wilderness daring to dream of a better future for their children, yet always remaining true to their traditions and who they were, following the dictates of their conscience and clinging to the faith that sustained them.
This current work explores the lives of the next generations during the first half of the 19th century as they developed their own self-understanding, giving birth to a distinct identity that was uniquely their own in Hungary. We will see how they preserved their heritage, yet invariably established new traditions in their interactions with a changing, sometimes threatening environment around them. There was adaptation when necessary but no capitulation to those outside pressures. They lived their lives within the context of a wider society in which they were often Strangers and Sojourners. Yet, these generations took the first hesitant steps that would recognize Hungary was not only their Heimat but also their Homeland and all that implied.
As an author I have tried to take my cue from readers kind enough to share their thoughts and observations about this trilogy: Remember To Tell The Children. It was my son Stephen who challenged me to risk writing it in the format of historical fiction as I indicated previously. But at the same time I have attempted to be as factual as possible. Because of my lifelong fascination with history, I also wanted to enable my readers to have a grasp of the historical context in which the Children of the Danube lived and introduced the readers of The Pioneers to a taste of that wider history. I take the liberty of sharing the comments of one of them, Robert Weink of Green Lake, Wisconsin:
“I especially enjoyed your weaving of historical and political events together with those simple joys and sorrows of everyday life of our ancestors. The pattern that created brought a new depth and appreciation of those flesh and blood people who until now have only existed in lists of names and dates. Children of the Danube was a fine entrée, but this was definitely the start of the main course.”
Once again I wish to express my appreciation to my son Stephen for his painstaking editing of the manuscript, and his helpful comments and insights. Above all, I need to acknowledge that without my wife Jean’s support, patience and understanding this next volume would not have seen the light of day and for that reason it is dedicated to her.