Remarks by Walid Maalouf
Executive Director, American Lebanese League

The Lebanese American Community of New England
Methuen, Massachusetts

Tuesday, May 10, 1988

Welcoming His Beatitude Patriarch Maximos V Hakim


Thank you for accepting our invitation and welcome to each one present here tonight. This is the first time I speak in the presence of a Patriarch. My heart is beating fast. (Laughter). I will try to do my best. Your Beatitude, ladies and gentlemen, the American Lebanese League (ALL) has a mission to unite the Lebanese American community in the United States of America.

We have supported many projects in the past, and today we sponsor many cultural, educational and humanitarian projects for Lebanon and for our heritage. On the educational level, we are explaining the Lebanese heritage to our American brothers and we are supporting policies that bring peace and unity to our Lebanon. I am very happy to tell you that ALL Leadership will be meeting Secretary of State George Shultz the end of this month to point out some of our concerns regarding the situation in Lebanon.

On the other hand, we look forward to the audience we will have with our holy father John Paul II on Wednesday November 9 th when the ALL leadership leads a pilgrimage to Rome.

We do believe that no conflict in Lebanon is solved without the input of the international community, therefore; we believe that we have to be prepared and ready when united Lebanon needs us at this international level. Lebanon, Your Beatitude, is our heritage and I would like to ask you as the head of the Melkite rite in Lebanon and all the East to encourage the Melkite community in America, I may say as a Melkite myself, to be more involved in the League humanitarian activities and political process. After all the first Lebanese to migrate to the United States in 1840 was a Melkite priest who came to Boston to raise funds for his Church. When the Melkite community becomes more involved we will have an equal opportunity to have their input and their support like any other group not only in helping Lebanon but make the League a united single voice for our community nationwide.

The Melkites in the States come from so many other nationalities, and those other nationalities came to the United States for the same reason the Lebanese are coming today. We all came because we want freedom, democracy, good governance and to make advancements in our personal lives. For the last two generations hundreds of people came from Syria, Egypt, and Palestine to this land of opportunity. Before coming to America they migrated to Lebanon. I want to give you a small example of the Maalouf family. In the 1600s the Maaloufs were in a town called Doma in Syria. Then they were pushed out and ended up in Keserwan. From there they went to the Maten and by 1750 they reached Kfarkatra in the Chouf district of Mount Lebanon. Since that date they stayed two and half decades and unfortunately we once again faced migration after the 1983 displacement of the Chouf, Aley and west Saida to migrate again to the US, Europe, Canada and Australia.

The least thing we are asking in this 20 th century is that the Lebanese preserve their freedom, dignity and existence. Existence is past, present and future. The past is our parents and grand parents. The present is us and what we are facing following 13 years of destruction of a society that had possessed a high standard of living and had made an educational and cultural contribution to this world. And the future is our children. This is existence. What should I tell my children if I am not able, if I am not dignified, free and happy?

My dear brothers let's reach out to our heritage with dignity, pull together from all faiths and send Lebanon a peaceful solution. Thank you.