Thank you from the bottom of my heart

At the end of each year we Americans look around and count our blessings. Not least among them is to live freely with mutual respect in a nation full of opportunity. A nation where each of us has the chance to his or her dream and make it a reality. How Many Times... I Told You - Reflections, Memories and Hope for Lebanon was a dream that became a reality because of so many people: family, friends and foes.

In this holy 2007 season I want to thank all my friends who made it possible by helping, participating, engaging others and organizing my book signing tour. First, I want to say thank you to the World Lebanese Cultural Union for being such a great advocate of my work, organizing several of my book signing tours and posting my book banner on their international website.  I also want to say thank you to the Lebanese, Arab Media House of Virginia, Al-Hadath of Montreal, Al-Akbar of Montreal, Profile News of Boston, Cedar News of New York, Cedars Network USA, At-Turath of Los Angeles, the Persian Heritage Monthly, the American Lebanese Coordination Council and the American Lebanese Coalition for either posting my book banner on their website or posting an ad of my book in their newspapers.  

Organizing a book signing event takes persistence, time and effort. It takes strong arms to carry the boxes from one place to another. It takes cooperation between generous friends and people to make it an appealing event. Therefore; I am indebted to the following individuals who were so dedicated to make my tour successful. Starting in Montreal, Canada on April 29, 2007 I thank Father Talal Al-Hachem, Alain Ayache and Raouf Najm in Paris, France George Abi Raad and Roge Hani - in  Miami, Florida Joseph Hage and Danny Ghanem - in Tampa, Florida Pierre Maroun and Richard Azar - in Orlando, Florida Amine Harb and Saba Shalhoub - in Washington DC Ambassador Clovis Maksoud and Wissam Assaker of Virginia and in Washington too at the annual dinner of the Rene Moawad Foundation, thanks to Nadia Abourizk and Nina Idris - in Boston, Massachusetts Monsignor Joseph Lahoud and Abe Tannous - in Detroit, Michigan Milad Zohrob, Walid Nassif and Ibrahim Marji - in Richmond, Virginia Monsignor George Sebali - in Ottawa, Canada Danny Michelani and Elias Kassab of Toronto - in Los Angeles, California Joe Karaki, Dr. Hanna Chammas, Dr. Ghassan Boutros, Fares Wehbe, Edward Nahas, Anis Garabet and Karim Jaoudeh - in San Diego, California Eddy Slim and Father Nabil Mouaness and on December 13, 2007 in New York city Haleem Zihenni and the Consul General of Lebanon the Honorable Antoine Azzam for hosting my book signing at the Consulate General of Lebanon's residence which was the most touching gesture I received from my ancestral country of birth.  

I must not forget to thank Pierre Attalah of Annahar in Beirut, Sonia Nammour of Prestige Magazine in Beirut, Mohamad Jaber of Assabeel magazine in Michigan for the write-up and I appreciated very much your thoughtful writing about this project. Many Thanks to Milad Bessada, ART television, for hosting me on the "What's Happening" show and Elie Semaan for creating the brilliant banner which became the trade mark of my book promotion.  

Also thank you to all the panelists at some of the book signing events from Paris to Washington: former Minister Salim Al-Jahel, former Ambassador Samira El-Daher, US Minister Counselor James Bullock, Mary Jane Deeb, Chief of the African and Middle East Division at the Library of Congress, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Carpenter and Dr. Alfred Saad of Boston. A special thank you to Dr. Wadih Haddad, former advisor to the President of Lebanon, Dr. Marius Deeb of John Hopkins University and Poet May Rihani for believing in me. 

Last, but not least, to every one in Lebanon, France, Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Australia and the United States of America who acquired a copy of my book and visited my website.

You all have demonstrated the real story in my book with your labors in these efforts which are unity, freedom, self determination, and working together to lift Lebanon up. You did not only do this for me but for Lebanon as well. Your work isn't finished yet, Lebanon still needs you and we shall not tire, we shall not yield and we shall not compromise until we see Lebanon totally free with real vibrant democracy and true independence.

I cannot close this letter without thanking my employer, the leadership at the Office of the General Council and the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs at the U.S. Agency for International Development for clearing this project for me including the website and the wonderful letters about my book I received from President George W. Bush and former President George H. W. Bush.     

Thank you all and may God protect you and your families in this holy season, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Walid Maalouf