Israel Independence Day – I was honored to have been invited to the official celebration of the 61st anniversary of the State of Israel last Wednesday in Washington.
It was at midnight on May 14, 1948, that the modern state of Israel was officially declared an independent nation.
Just 11 minutes later, President Harry Truman officially recognized the new nation and the two countries have enjoyed a special relationship since then.
In Israel, “Independence Day” is jointly celebrated with “Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars.”
At the event this year, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made an emotional speech in which she invoked her meeting in Israel with the parents of fallen soldiers.
She was welcomed by Sallai Meridor, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, who will soon be returning to Israel and gave his last official speech.
Just a week before, Governor Tim Kaine made a trade mission to Israel, Morocco, and Dubai before returning home.
Trade between Israel and Virginia remains strong and several Israeli companies have opened facilities here in the past few years.
The Fall of a Republic
This past weekend brought an infamous anniversary as April 30 marked the 34th year since the fall of Saigon.
Few who watched television on April 30, 1975, will forget the scenes of evacuation helicopters landing on the grounds of our embassy there.
Thousands of Americans and South Vietnamese jumped aboard, many picked up on rooftops.
As they fled, thousands more waited to be rescued as North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops surrounded the embassy.
Millions of Vietnamese were forced to flee their country by land or sea, and hundreds of thousands did not survive the trip.
Those who left by sea are known as the Boat People and many drifted for months until they were rescued.
They settled in the United States and many other countries. To commemorate this, there was a dinner on Friday at the Fortune Restaurant.
I attended and heard of the harrowing stories of the survivors of this forced exodus who are so proud of their adopted country.
I also attended an event on Sunday on the national mall honoring Vietnamese veterans of the war.
This moving ceremony concluded with the placing of wreathes by the Vietnam Memorial and the associated statues.
Race to Help
Also on Sunday, the Arc of Northern Virginia held its annual Patriot’s Cup Corporate Challenge 5K race.
George Mason University has been the host of this fundraising event since its inception 31 years ago.
The Arc of Northern Virginia does an outstanding job in advocating for the needs of the intellectually disabled.
Like all non-profit groups, the Arc depends on contributions to further its mission. But, due to the economy, all contributions are down.
If you would like to help this worthwhile group financially, then you can send your tax deductible contribution to:
The Arc of Northern Virginia, 98 N. Washington Street, Falls Church, Virginia 22040.
Luis A. Lama, a longtime Realtor with the Long & Foster office at Seven Corners, passed away due to cancer this past Sunday.
A man of unquestioned integrity, Luis served as Chairman of the Board of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors in 2007.
That same year, he was also named “Realtor of the Year” by the Association for his contributions to the area’s real estate profession.
As Chairman, Luis held a number of Realtor cultural forums to bring together real estate agents of different ethnicities.
He also served on the Boards of Directors of the Virginia Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.
During the Realtor’s Legislative Conference in Richmond this year, he was presented with the “Service to Virginia Award.”
This was given by the Virginia Housing Development Authority for his service with minorities.
Luis will be missed by the many people who knew and admired him.