Remarks by Walid Maalouf
Coordinator, Day Honoring Sister Mary Michel Boulus
The Lebanese American Community
Belmont, North Carolina
Saturday, September 21, 1985
As coordinator of the day, and a recipient of the Lebanese scholarship, I have been asked to talk about why we are here today. I want all of you to know that I am speaking from my heart; from the hearts of all scholarship recipients and their families; and from the hearts of the Lebanese American committee present here today.
Lebanon has produced many people to rely on in her hour of needs. Every American of Lebanese ancestry is an asset to the old country. You are the ones who can change the course of events in our country. You are the ones who can work hard to bring solutions. You have a greater opportunity to do so more than anyone else.
The freedom of America is your starting point. America has become the cornerstone of your well being as a community. You must know how to build on this cornerstone and communicate strength and love to the people of Lebanon.
One of you has taken full advantage of the opportunity. She has lighted a single candle in this land of liberty, the United States of America - specifically in Belmont, NC. The light shines brightly and says to its old country, here I am, take my hand, make it as a bridge. I have not forgotten my heritage. I love you; son and I will do all I can to bring peace, freedom, dignity, love and education to my heirs. The person holding the candle is the reason we are here today, Sister Mary Michel Boulus.
We are not here today to tell her only thank you and how grateful we are for her firm stand for the cause of peace through education in Lebanon. We are here to tell her that the road is still long; and Lebanon, the six thousand year old country, will continue to need her while its sons strive for peace, freedom and dignity.
Many Lebanese Americans have done great things for Lebanon through community spirit and aid. But the remarkable thing about Sister Michel is that the scholarship for Lebanese students has been accomplished through her personal efforts. She is the founder, and, for many years, has work alone to raise the money for this scholarship. While others have abandoned Lebanon as a hopeless situation, Sister Michel has never lost faith in her people and has worked quietly and humbly to fins solutions through understanding and proper education. Now, with your help, we can continue this cause as long as Lebanon needs us. And the light of this one candle is joined by the light of many, drawing from her flame, shattering the darkness of chaos and war with its brilliance. As the Apostle John wrote, "The light shines on in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it."
Lebanon is in a very critical situation. It is up to each and every one of you, here and now, to help. You can work to create a strong understanding within our community and to create channels of communication throughout the United States of America. Channels that strengthen a spirit of cooperation and peaceful living both here and in Lebanon.
Traditionally, we have been people of peace, contrary to popular opinion; we do not like to fight. To prove that we don't enjoy war - look at how resilient we are. We keep rebuilding - we believe in the hope that tomorrow may be different.
So, why are we fighting? As Thomas Jefferson said, "In matters of principles, stand like a rock. In matters of taste, swim with the current." Our principles are love, peace, freedom, democracy and long-lasting existence. It is through education that we learn the difference between principles and tastes. It is through education that we learn when to stand firm and when to swim with the current.
I would like to send the world and its leaders a message. The most effective peace effort comes not from the imposition of one principle over another; but from two principles learning to live side by side in an educated manner that works for the good of the whole country.
I ask you to support this scholarship and to stand firm behind this cause. As Dr. Wadih Haddad said, "this education of Lebanese youth is an investment that will help preserve the character and spirit of Lebanon, and make possible the rebuilding of its society when the time of peace comes."
You should never forget your ancestry. You should never forget your duty toward Lebanon. Your grandfather and great-grandfather were born there. You are the ones who can save Lebanon. Don't ever forget this - as you haven't forgotten the kebbe, the tabouli, and the baklawa.
My dear friends, we have to walk with our heads held high. Whatever courses we are passing through, we will work hard to live with each other in love and dignity. We will never give up. Although we may fall as individuals we will get back up, with pride, as a country.
Sister Michel, I tell you that we are going to stand together with you as long as we live. And, I tell all of you, that with your support, we shall reach our goal of peace through education. These terms of peace cannot be divided. We practice them throughout every inch of the surface of the United States of America. We must practice them throughout every inch of the surface of Lebanon.
The Lebanon that we need.
Lebanon, the 10,452 km2. We love you Sister.