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Cleveland International Hall of Fame 2017 Annual Induction Banquet

On Tuesday evening, April 18th, we attended the Cleveland International Hall of Fame 2017 annual induction banquet that took place at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Cleveland. Approximately 500 people attended and "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" was a bronze sponsor of the event and had its own table in close proximity to those of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA), and the Confucius Institute. As usual Mr. Dan Hanson and Ms. Debbie Hanson of Clevelandpeople.com did an amazing job coordinating the entire operation.

After networking for a while in the foyer on the second floor of the hotel, we moved into the banquet room for dinner and the ceremonies which started with a Color Guard composed of young people from the Horizon Science Academy's JROTC. The National Anthem was sung by Ms. Andrea Anelli, Founding Director of "ContempOpera Cleveland" and then Mr. Hanson gave the welcome and introductions in which he said, in part, that "in many ways the world is a mess but thankfully the situation in Cleveland is much better. The 120 or so ethnic communities represented in Cleveland are a model for the rest of the world...In Cleveland, people from all groups come together for events like this celebration at the Cleveland International Hall of Fame...In fact, many look forward to sitting with people representing cultures they know very little about and request a seat apart from their comfort zone."

Mr. Hanson's opening words set the "coming together" spirit that was prevalent for the rest of the evening starting with the invocation in which Father Remus Grama from St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral acknowledged that even though he would give a Christian prayer he wanted to "convey my peace also" to his friends who were non-Christians also.

Of course the highlight of the night was the induction of six worthy people into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame. As the rules stated, qualifications for this honor included: "The person must have made significant contributions to one or more ethnic communities in Cleveland or to the overall community...The contributions must have a lasting effect. Organizing a single festival or event is terrific but a Hall of Famer's contributions must have long-term benefits. The Cleveland International Hall of Fame strives to recognize people with a lifetime of service rather than those with one or two accomplishments, worthy as they may be." We are honored to say that Ms. Margaret W. Wong was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 and gave the keynote address for the event honoring the 2013 class.

This year the six people who were chosen to be inducted were Ms. Mona Alag who immigrated to the United States in 1970 from India and has been involved in several community groups and projects like FICA, Project Seva, and Helping Hands that have brought joy and happiness into the lives of many people; Mr. Jim Craciun, co-owner and manager of "Craciun Berry Funeral Home" and "Corrigan Craciun Funeral Home" and an outstanding Human Rights Activist who has literally risked his life to help others; Dr. Wael Khoury, M.D. who immigrated to the United States from Syria in the late 1970's and is now Head of Cardiology at Marymount Hospital and has been involved in many civic/cultural organizations like the Cleveland American Middle East Organization, the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, and just recently became the President of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation; Mr. Seung (Sam) Kim who was born in South Korea and served with distinction in the Vietnam War before also immigrating to the United States in the 1970's where is now the President of the Korean American Association of Greater Cleveland; Mr. William Miller, who unfortunately has now passed, but served the people of Cleveland for 40 years as a reporter for the "Plain Dealer" during which time he wrote the "Ethnic Scene" column enabling our populace to learn and understand the goings-on in our rich mosaic city of cultures; and Mr. Basil Russo, a very prominent and respected attorney who has taken part in an abundance of projects to promote the Italian American community of Cleveland and the U.S. including serving as chairman for the Columbus Day parade in Cleveland and as the National President of the Order of "Italian Sons and Daughters of America".

These people were inducted into the Hall of Fame by those near and dear to them. Ms. Alag was inducted by her dear friend, Mr. Sudarshan Sathe; Mr. Craciun was inducted by Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone for whom he has been a longtime mentor; Dr. Khoury was inducted by his colleague Dr. Nizar Zein; Mr. Russo was inducted by his son-in-law Mr. Joe Rosalina and his daughter, Gabriela Russo Rosalina; Mr. Kim was inducted by his son, Mr. Ki Kim; and Mr. Miller was inducted by his beloved friend, Mr. August Pust and the honor was accepted by his widow, Ms. Marianna Miller.

If we tried to quote the speeches given of all concerned, we would have to include all of them and quote them all verbatim in order to capture the love that they all expressed for their families, their heritages, and their faiths which all played a part in them making the wonderful contributions to Cleveland that they did. As immigration attorneys, we were glad that several speeches included the upholding the role that immigrants have played in making Cleveland and the United States the rich and vibrant society that it is.

So it was only fitting that Mr. Hanson (not to leave out his sister, Ms. Debbie Hanson,  who took an active part in the ceremonies too) would close the evening by saying of the honorees "what an amazing group of people" who have shared their stories with us all.

Thus the evening ended with all in attendance raising their water glasses and drinking a healthy toast to the honorees, to Cleveland, and our future.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC