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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Excerpts from Text of Speech Delivered by Councilman John Akouri at the Cedar Revolution USA Celebration

Saint Sharbel Maronite Church Banquet Centre Warren, Michigan USA - Saturday, October 01, 2005 - 7:00 PM
Good Evening and Welcome. Father Gregory El-Thom, Mr. Edward Moussawer and Members of Auxilia, Mr. Kamal Shouhayib and Members of the American Druze Foundation, Mr. Hanna Kamel and Members of the Lebanese Forces, Mr. Walid Nassif and Members of Tayar Al-Mustaqbal, Distinguished Members of the National Bloc Party, Mr. Brahim Marji and Members of the Kataeb Party, Mr. Joe Mourani and Members of the Lebanese American Club of Michigan, Senior Counsel to US Rep. John Conyers, Ms. Carol Patton, Senior Advisor to Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido, Mr. Joe Beydoun, Assistant Warren City Attorney Mr. Ronald Popandrea, distinguished leaders, honored guests, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen. The Lebanese reputation for hospitality is known worldwide and I thank you for your kind and warm welcome. It is indeed an honor to be invited to emcee this reception and I feel privileged to address this energetic Lebanese audience. I wish to extend to all of you my sincerest greetings to you and your families in honor of this celebration.
My name is John Akouri, and I am a City Councilman from the great City of Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA. This evening, I am not here representing the interest of any one group or organization – rather, I am present simply as an American of Lebanese descent interested in securing a promising future for our beloved Lebanon. As an elected official and as an American, I am pleased to be able to practice and experience the freedoms of Independence, Liberty, and Sovereignty afforded to me by the framers of our country’s Constitution, but additionally to be able to work towards a truly free, sovereign and independent Lebanese Republic.
Just over 200 years ago in this country, a group of American patriots signed what is today known as the Declaration of Independence. On March 14 of this year, over One Million Lebanese Patriots took to the streets of Beirut in a Cedar Revolution declaring their demand for Independence. If there were a million people in Freedom Square, we know there were millions of others echoing this same declaration from Brazil to France, from Canada to Dubai and from the US to Australia.
“If the spirit of those Lebanese Americans is strong here, imagine what the spirit will be of their relatives and friends in Beirut." - President George W. Bush
Although they could not be with us this at this tremendously attended celebration, sincerest greetings are sent to you this night by US Senator Carl Levin and Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller. This evening is more than just a celebration it is also a tribute. It is a tribute to many people. First and foremost, it is a tribute to the leaders of the Lebanese Information Center who have worked tirelessly in their efforts to release and bring home prisoners of war, lobby our elected officials in the Congress in Washington, DC, bring to light the need for justice and human rights in Lebanon, and preserve our ancestral culture and heritage. I wish to commend the Center and applaud the wisdom, leadership and unrelenting efforts of its founder and our very special guest this evening from our nation’s capital, Dr. Joe Gebeily for what he has done for Lebanon and for all the Lebanese.
And speaking of our nation's capial, let us also call to mind the words of our great President George W. Bush in an interview with LBC when he said: “United States believes in freedom. And we appreciate courage. We appreciate the courage of those who are willing to stand up and say, we want to be free; we want to be a democracy; we want to help establish a government that responds to the people. And you'll have our help.” The president said many Lebanese Americans have been calling upon him to work for a free Lebanon, and added, “If the spirit of those Lebanese Americans is strong here, imagine what the spirit will be of their relatives and friends in Beirut. And Lebanon is a great country, and Lebanon has had a fantastic history. It's also had some difficult days. But I think there is a better day ahead for the people of Lebanon, and I think people, no matter what their politics may be, really want Lebanon to succeed.”
While we are surrounded this evening by many Members of the Press including Mr. Walid Jaadan, President & General Manager of Radio/TV Orient, Ms. Dunia El-Badaoui, Editor of The Voice of Freedom Newspaper and Mr. Karim Haddad, An Nahar/Al Akhbar Windsor Correspondent - tonight as I deliver this message to you, one of their colleagues and a friend of the Lebanese worldwide: LBC Reporter May Chidiac rests in a Hospital in Beirut after an assassination attempt on her life. Let us pause in a moment of solemn prayer to salute this modern day heroine of freedom of speech and expression:
May Chidiac, you are the Voice of Freedom. Stand tall in the face of terror, for you are the last line of defense between Good and Evil; Truth and deception; Freedom and Oppression. Let your voice and spirit resonate loud and far; we suffer with you, we feel with you, we cry with you. Do not give in to these barbaric terrorists. Let them know nothing they do will shake our passion for Freedom. So, tonight as you recuperate, please know that we are all thinking of you and waiting to once again hear the sound of your words and see the world through your eyes. We solemnly salute you May Chidiac, and each and every Lebanese who embraces the sense of Independence as an inherent right and duty and in the current international climate will - with all his means - advocate for the pursuit of a truly free, sovereign and independent Lebanon. May God Bless and Protect You.
Thank you, God Bless You, Long Live Lebanon and God Bless America, and may she continue to shine as a beacon of hope and democracy for the entire world to see.

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">