Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ATFL Honors Americans of Lebanese Heritage

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ATFL Honors Americans of Lebanese Heritage

Article excerpt

The American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) held its annual Gala on March 28 at the Fairmont Washington, DC Hotel. Every year the ATFL honors prominent Americans of Lebanese heritage, and this year they saluted individuals who have pioneered surf music, cured cancer in children and provided refugee relief in Lebanon. Former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham emceed this year's event, which he called the "Academy Awards for the Lebanese-American community," with help from ATFL president Peter Tanous and executive director Dr. George Cody.

Between galas, the ATFL works to promote a secure, stable, independent and sovereign Lebanon with full control over all its territories. ATFL also provides prostheses and vocational training for victims injured by landmines and cluster munitions leftbehind by Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon. ATFL's latest project is to raise funds for two mine detection dogs for landmine clearance. In recent years ATFL has also urged the U.S. to increase funding for humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Ambassador of Lebanon to the U.S. Antoine Chedid thanked ATFL for the increasingly active political roles it is playing in response to numerous crises in Lebanon. Despite the horror stories Americans may read in their press, Ambassador Chedid said, "Lebanon is not a land of chaos and despair....We are determined to preserve our nation...and remain united, free and independent despite our differences." Chedid said that the Lebanese army and government is providing both internal and border security. "We need the assistance of all nations to help establish peace and security," Chedid added, as his country endures "spillover from Syria," and the impact of millions of refugees threatens to unravel Lebanon's economy, politics and society. "Help Syria reach a political solution," he urged, before presenting Dr. Cody with the "Shield of Lebanon" from President Michel Suleiman, an award which deeply moved the recipient.

Dick Dale (born Richard Monsour in Boston), the "King of the Surf Guitar," was presented with the Ray R. Irani Lifetime Achievement Award. Dale said he was paid only 5 cents an hour for his first job and learned many important life lessons from his Lebanese father and grandfather, not to mention his Polish mother. …

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