Truth is My Sword, Volume II
by Bo Hi Pak
Appendix 8 Pierangelo Beltrami
Award-winning graphic artist and packaging designer; gold, silver, and bronze medalist on the U.S. Disabled Cycling Team.
It was a rainy afternoon that September 15, 1974. As I looked out the window, the plane was circling Manhattan and making its final approach to Kennedy Airport. Suddenly I realized why they call New York City the Big Apple. I was traveling with a few other Italian volunteers selected to help with the final days of preparation for the "September 18 Could Be Your Rebirth Day" rally. The big event was to be held at Madison Square Garden on September 18.
That day still holds a very special meaning for me because, on that day, two of my closest friends joined the church in Italy, and it marks my first encounter with True Father and Dr. Pak
From the airport we were driven directly to the Unification Church center on 71st Street where Col. Pak (as we have affectionately called him at that time) was already busy translating an impromptu speech for True Father. As we walked in from the noisy streets of Manhattan, we could hear True Father's and Dr. Pak's voices echoing from the main hall.
At that time I did not speak much English, and I had little knowledge of any cultures outside my own and a zero understanding of the Oriental culture, language, and customs. Nevertheless as True Father spoke, we could sense a certain seriousness in the air for the impending event, but also I could feel True Father's love and concern for our safety and well-being.
When True Father finished speaking, Dr. Pak came onto the stage to welcome us. He welcome all the Japanese and Europeans who had arrived that week to help out with the Madison Square Garden campaign. I did not know Dr. Pak at that time and had no idea that he would became my leader and mentor for many wonderful years.
Sitting on the floor and looking around, I found myself surrounded by people from many different cultures gathered in small groups, each translating the speech into their own language. I felt that a miniature United Nations was being assembled there. Dr. Pak's speech made everyone feel very welcome.
The Madison Square Garden Rally was an extraordinary event in many ways. That evening, as I stood in the middle of the packed stadium, I realized I was witnessing an intense struggle. Reverend Moon, God's messenger, was trying very hard to deliver one of the most important and prophetic revelations of our time. I was amazed to see people of all walks of life sitting there listening to the speech. The sheer power of those thundering words sent chills down my spine and struck a note of urgency in my very bone marrow. I felt I was witnessing history in the making.
While Father at times walked around the podium, speaking from the top of his lungs, agitating arms and legs to make a point, Dr. Pak remained at the podium translating Father's every word with conviction in the deep voice that became his trademark from that time on.
A few weeks after the Madison Square Garden speech, Father embarked on a 21-city tour across the United States. I joined Rev. Vincenz's IOWC team that went to every city to witness and prepare for the event. At every city, Dr. Pak translated for Father at the speech and the victory celebration afterwards. It was a difficult time for True Parents and for everyone involved, but it was also a time of deep discovery of God's suffering heart.
I always wonder how Dr. Pak could manage to be with Father day and night, attending and translating, as well as taking care of the Little Angels tour, making sure that every city was ready for True Parents' arrival, organizing the "Forgive, Love, Unite" campaign, plus a myriad of activities that True Father was initiating every day.
For the longest time I did not know if Dr. Pak had a family. He seemed to be by Father's side every minute of the day.
Through the years I observed Dr. Pak fill many roles: An evangelist with the Celebration of Life speaking tour. An architect designing the intricate interior of historical landmarks such as the New Yorker Hotel Grand Ballroom. A publisher who started successful newspapers. A businessman. A skilled diplomat who arranged for high-level VIPs to meet True Father. A fighter against bigotry when True Father entered Danbury. At that time, Dr. Pak mobilized the entire movement to demonstrate for religious freedom across the United States with religious figures we could only have dreamed about meeting a few months before.
But whatever Dr. Pak did, he did it for True Parents. He followed True Parents' many challenging directions with absolute faith, he uplifted True Parents in every setting and with all people. And when he reported to True Parents, he always gave recognition and credit to the members who worked with him. This is one of his most precious qualities.
Perhaps Dr. Pak's biggest coup was a political one: the Fraser hearings. People in the United States who were close to the event remember it well, but this struggle was especially appreciated in Korea. His fight against the harassment orchestrated by then-Congressman Fraiser vindicated not only True Father but every Korean living in this country and abroad. The unfair attack against True Father pitted Dr. Pak against one of the most powerful congressmen of his time. I still remember Dr. Pak's testimony and his fiery responses. He defended True Father with all his heart while strongly denouncing the leftist bias of the congressional inquiry. Dr. Pak's pride in True Parents moved thousands of members worldwide to tears and showed us how a heavenly general fights evil.
For many years Dr. Pak attended Father at Belvedere at holy days and Sunday services. As customary at the end of Father's speech, after having done a tremendous job of simultaneous translation for four or five hours, Father would invite Dr. Pak to give a report on activities overseas. "Mr. Bubbling Enthusiasm," as he defined himself at one of the earlier pep talks before Washington Monument, would get himself ready to report by rushing to the pile of newspaper clippings and other material sitting on a nearby chair, quickly sifting through and organizing them.
Dr. Pak would look out from the stage, and with papers under his arm, he would first offer a full bow to True Parents. Then with a big smile, standing in front of the microphone, his thundering "Good morning, everyone, how are you today?" would signal the end of the break. Dr. Pak would tell compelling stories that he would back up with exhibit A and article B from his stack of papers. His reports were so interesting that it was practically impossible to doze off. Who in his right mind would want to miss the latest development of Father's work around the world or hear what a world leader had to say about Father? Who would want to trade such a moving experience for a few minutes of numbing sleep?
I would be up there on the edge of my seat capturing every word. As Dr. Pak got warmed up, I would soon find myself laughing with Father and Mother and applauding the report. At some point he seems to be wrapping up the report with the now famous phrase, "to make a long story short..." But the excitement was still building and so was the story. By the end of his report, Dr. Pak was always able to bring together the entire audience and resurrect even the most tired and low-spirited member.
Even on more private occasions, Dr. Pak's reports reflected his enthusiasm, which was contagious, and his words always uplifting. He more than anybody I ever knew was capable of talking to each person exactly at his or her level with dignity and respect, inevitably triggering mutual respect for Dr. Pak. Whether he was meeting President Reagan or former heads of states from other countries, Dr. Pak, through his many years of experience in the diplomatic world, would find himself always at ease with them or other VIPs.
Whatever he was doing, reporting, listening, giving directions, translating for True Father-his behavior was always remarkably consistent: strong in voice and action but humble in spirit.
Some of the guests who came to the many conferences organized by True Father were not necessarily relaxed at first. Some had doubts or personal questions while others would express the hope to meet Rev. Moon in person. After going through the receiving line where Dr. Pak would introduced them to Father, they would change. They would feel more relaxed and happy. Dr. Pak would mingle with the guests afterwards, listening to their comments and testifying to them about True Father.
The movement in the 1970s and exuberant 1980s was involved in major campaigns and conferences around the world. Dr. Pak was always in the forefront of the battlefield.
At the joint conference in Moscow in 1991 (World Media Association, Summit Council, and AULA), which was a great victory, I saw first-hand how hard Dr. Pak was pushing himself. After the conference was over, we got word that True Parents would be visiting Red Square. We quickly got in a taxi bound for Red Square. We didn't want to miss the opportunity to see True Parents and to be with them. True Parents walked the Square hand in hand, visited Lenin Mausoleum, prayed in the chapel inside the Kremlin, and granted us a rare photo op right on the Square. After we bid farewell to them and started to walk back to the hotel, we realized that Dr. Pak was not his usual self. At one point he stopped for a deep breath, but rather then feeling better he got worse. Antonio Betancourt and Bill Selig had to literally carry him to the nearest taxi. Dr. Pak was ready to collapse in their arms.
Many times Dr. Pak would return invigorated from an early morning meeting with Father. He would then proceed to tell us about that meeting. He would pause for a few seconds with his head slightly bent forward, almost like a bow, reflecting for a moment, then he would say something like: "I'm telling you, every time I meet True Father, he never stops amazing me! Or, "Time and time again he shows me the living God." Or after a very intense conference he would say: "True Father is just too much for these people. No one really understands Father, no one, no one!"
I and other members of Dr. Pak's so-called team always appreciated his special relationship with True Parents. By observing their interaction, I've come to understand the meaning of absolute faith, absolute love, and absolute obedience-even before these words became the slogan of the `90s.
Together with Dr. Pak we shared laughter, sweat, and even tears. To this day he remains for me and many others who had the privilege of working closely with him, one of the most influential and effective people who helped shape True Father's work in the last 30 years. Because of the nature of my work, I had the good fortune to work with most of the Korean leaders here in America. I spent a good part of my 25 years-plus in America with Dr. Pak. In all these years, I have never found a more inspiring and devoted leader, or anyone more dedicated to God and True Parents, than Dr. Bo Hi Pak.
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