Remarks by Walid Maalouf
Spokesman, The Metrolina Phoenician Club
The Lebanese American Community of the Carolinas
Belmont, North Carolina
Sunday, September 28, 1986
I want to congratulate you for nurturing this cedar, which we planted last year into a club, which will bring the Lebanese American in the Carolinas together. As the cedar needs water for growth, this club needs your support for expansion and success. It is not enough to get together to celebrate a beginning, but it is more important that this organization function consistently and continue operating in the preservation of our heritage and traditions for the good of our community throughout the Carolinas and the good of our beloved homeland, Lebanon.
We are standing here, immigrants from the first, second, third and fourth generations, newcomers and students, with friends and supporters to share together this moment of solidarity. Solidarity with Lebanon and her people for a better, peaceful, independent, united, free country.
Since 1975, Lebanon has been suffering and paying a fee for a war, which is not hers. It has been a playground for many foreign forces. We called for help and many local and international forces came in either to help, invade or occupy our Lebanon . Their presence has created more differences and troubles. I believe now that your turn has come and that the only effective help Lebanon can get is from her own sons and daughters who came here and to other parts of the world. Look back to your old country and you see that every Lebanese has an American cousin.
One hundred thousand of your Lebanese cousins are killed. More than six hundred thousand of your cousins are displaced from the Chouf, Aley and Ekleem districts. The country is destroyed. The economy is sinking and the world is still watching. Since July 23, 1979 when I left my hometown in the Chouf district of Mount Lebanon, I have not been able to go to my own house and the land where I was born and raised where my great great grandfather was born and raised. My father spent his life building our house stone by stone, brick by brick - and now he is sixty-four years old and cannot go back to enjoy retirement. In October 1982, elderly women and men were forced to leave without anything. A lifetime of memory, tradition, dignity, pride, and existence were smashed and the world is still watching. Properties, lives, churches are destroyed. Massacres and car bomb are taking place and the world is still watching. What in the world have we done to deserve such a fate? What in the world did we do to deserve such a lifetime? Yes my dear friends, it is your time to save Lebanon . Your great, great grandfathers are asking you from their graves to come and help your brothers and cousins in Lebanon so that they can go back to their land and get back what they have lost. The bones of your ancestors are not resting in peace because they are worried about the future of their beloved land. They need you to go and visit their graves and lay a wreath on them with dignity and pride.
What does it mean to say that you are Lebanese of descent without preserving this heritage and tradition with pride? What does the dabkeh mean without a stable old country? I mean here, what would you tell your sons of their ancestry if Lebanon will not exist any more? Don't lose this heritage. Don't lose this identity. Because no matter how long you stay here, you are always going to be Lebanese. You have to be proud of your heritage because throughout history, we have been known as people of law and justice, people of peace, commerce and trade - open to the whole world, and you are the example. Get away from this individualism and let's unite in one strong group. Let's send Lebanon a solution!
How can we sand Lebanon a solution? Through organization like the Metrolina Phoenician Club. And then get involved on a national level through a national organization like the American Lebanese League. When we reach this point my dear friends, we don't need anybody - no neighbors, no friendly token assistance. You are the ones who can help most effectively. And you are the ones who can change the course of life in Lebanon . We always hoped that the solution would come from the outside. The outside solution is not from superpowers or the other nations. The outside solution is from you to us. You are the superpowers, you are the hope and now you are the dream. Don't fail our expectations.
For the newcomers and especially the students, I would like to tell you that every one of you is an ambassador for Lebanon . The way you behave and act gives a reflection of Lebanon to the American people. You need to be thankful for what you have achieved in this land of liberty and grateful for every bit of help you received. You have to think about using what you learned here to help restore peace in Lebanon . Don't get discouraged. Have faith in your Lebanon . Read its history. You know that each and every one of you will go back to his land, because you belong in Beirut, you belong in Tripoli, Sidon, Jezzin, Deir El-Kamar, Hamana, Kobeiyat, and Beshary. Don't lose your identity, because if you do, you are lost.
My dear brothers and sisters, if we reach our goal in having a strong national organization in the United Sates of America that could impact decision on behalf of Lebanon.a peace could be achieved and every one of you could go back to his home town, and I finally could kiss the ground of my village, Kafarkatra, and live with dignity and pride with my family and raise my children in peace forever.
And today's event is a day of pride and happiness. It is a day in which we are telling the world that Lebanon is still alive, Lebanon is still in existence, Lebanon is eternal.