January 17, 2005

A fallen hero without a grave


TODAY MARKS the birthday of a great American, Martin Luther King Jr. This day coincides with the commemoration of another great American citizen, Raoul Wallenberg. Wallenberg is the Swedish diplomat who was sent to Nazi-occupied Hungary by the United States, where he saved 100,000 people while risking his own life. On this day 60 years ago, Wallenberg was taken by the Soviet army, never to be seen again.

King and Wallenberg are among the greatest heroes of our times. They both paid with their lives while giving many others the gifts of life, hope, liberty, and equality. They taught us that, even in man’s darkest times, an individual, armed only with determination, can make a difference.

This is a day to celebrate the remarkable deeds of King and of Wallenberg. But this is also a day when we should remember that Wallenberg, one of the very few to receive honorary US citizenship, deserves to have what King has: a grave to rest in. Sixty years after his disappearance, Wallenberg is, still, a hero without a grave.

The International Raoul
Wallenberg Foundation
New York