Unification News for May 1996


The Washington Times Foundation National Edition Inaugural Banquet

April 16, 1996

God poured out his spirit on America and blessed The Washington Times Foundation Inaugural Banquet. On April 16, more than 4000 prominent leaders from all fifty states flooded the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel to hear the inaugural speech by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, to witness the presentation of the First Washington Times Foundation National Service Awards, and to delight in the artistry of the Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg and the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC.

The atmosphere was electric. The ballroom was packed, and thousands more were seated in an overflow room. The event was covered live on C- Span, enabling millions of Americans to share the historic gala event.

Mr. Neil Salonen, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Bridgeport, officiated as the emcee. The program began on a high note. General Alexander Haig provided a gracious introduction to Rev. Moon. As Rev. Moon approached the podium the entire audience leapt to their feet to express their heartfelt appreciation for all of the fine work that he has done and their sense of gratitude for being present on such a historic occasion.

As the Founder's speech began the crowd fell silent and listened intently. Rev. Moon spoke in Korean with simultaneous translation provided by his daughter Dr. In Jin Moon. Rev. Moon explained the core of the Divine Principle to the guests, and cordially invited all who were present to attend the special Blessing Ceremony that would be held in Washington DC in 1997. As he finished his oration, the audience once again responded with a standing ovation.

The presentation of the National Service Awards followed. Dr. Richard Rubenstein represented the Invitational Committee and introduced the Special Award Recipients. Cheryl Landon Wilson received the Award for her father Michael Landon. She spoke of her father's dedication to the power of love and to providing wholesome entertainment for young people. During her remarks, she paused to give a special testimony to the Women's Federation for World Peace. She said that she had been particularly moved by the sisterhood ceremony in which Japanese and American women cross over the bridge to greet each other symbolizing bridging the gap between our cultures and achieving world peace through friendship. She personally thanked Rev. and Mrs. Moon for their vision and their commitment. A special Award was also received by Mrs. Caroline Wolff the founder of St. Gerard House, a short-term residential home for expectant mothers serving six counties in North Florida.

Next, in an incredibly moving ceremony, awards were presented simultaneously to over 150 award winners from across the country. The awards were presented by dignitaries representing the people of their states who had come to the event to honor the recipients. After the presentations, all of the award winners joined with Rev. and Mrs. Moon and members of the Invitational Committee for a group photo.

Yet the evening was not done yet. The evening's participants and guests were then treated to a lovely performance by students from the Kirov Academy of Ballet with guest performances from the Kirov Ballet of Russia, the Universal Ballet of Korea, and the Tulsa Ballet Theater. The highlight of the entertainment was a special solo dance by Mrs. Julia Moon, the daughter-in law of Rev. Moon. The awe inspiring artistry of the ballet was a fit finale for an evening of glory.

The Banquet was the fruit of a month of exhaustive effort by the staff of The Washington Times Foundation and a nationwide network of volunteers. In a larger sense, the evening represented the culmination of years of heartfelt effort and investment by Rev. Moon, The Washington Times, and thousands of dedicated Americans who share the goals and ideals of The Washington Times Foundation. For fifteen years, The Washington Times has labored to serve the American people with the highest standard of newspaper coverage. Meanwhile, inspired by the God-centered ideals taught by Rev. Moon, thousands of people of good will have labored quietly to establish a network of service across America. Through their own efforts, and by recognizing, and supporting the efforts of other sacrificial, serving Americans, they have been deeply involved in the efforts to confront our nation's problems.

The Washington Times Foundation was founded in 1992 as the philanthropic arm of The Washington Times Corporation. Believing that a healthy balance of theory and praxis brings results, the foundation sponsors educational forums and seeks to recognize and encourage individuals and groups who have discovered and demonstrated practical models and workable solutions to our society's problems.

In preparation for the presentation of National Service Awards at the inaugural banquet, National Service Award Committees were established in every state. Members of the committees were elected officials, ministers, and other leaders in the community. Nominations for the award were accepted from community groups, churches, and civic organizations and reviewed by the state committees. Their selections were forwarded to a national committee for ratification and for the further selection from among them of two representative recipients for special recognition.

As the award selection process was going on throughout the nation, The Washington Times Foundation was busy inviting distinguished guests from the Washington area to attend the banquet and hear Rev. Moon's speech. Staff members worked around the clock to make sure that all preparations were in order. As the time grew near, the confirmations began to pour in.

The result was a grand slam home run. Distinguished guests from the Washington area mixed with outstanding public servants from throughout America to enjoy a heavenly program, sharing the profound message of Rev. Moon, the moving inspiration of the awards ceremony, and the beauty of the ballet performance.


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