On Saturday, December 15th, we accompanied our friend and colleague, Mr. George Koussa, to the 54th annual Christmas Party Luncheon of the American Nationalities Movement (ANM), which took place at the Holy Spirit Party Center on West 54th Street in Parma.
The ANM wants to achieve the purpose to “unite all the nationalities in the United States in the goal to educate, advocate, and represent the interests of all the diverse ethnic groups to the public and mostly to the political leaders of the United States.” Another aim is “to protect our freedom and to work for the freedom and self-determination of all of the people of all captive nations of the world.” These goals were certainly reflected in the choices of those selected to receive the Freedom Awards at this time.
- Mr. Martin J. Hrabik Jr. who, in 1948 at age 2, escaped with his family from Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia and ultimately immigrated to the United States in 1951. He later became a very successful accountant and an active member of many Czech organizations such as Sokol Greater Cleveland and the Czech Catholic Union. As his bio in the program notes read, “Martin’s parents instilled the values of faith, family community, country, hard work, and education in their children which he has tried to instill in his family.”
- Ms. Gabriela Nadas is of Hungarian descent and very active in Hungarian organizations such as the Hungarian Scouts. As the program notes read, in 1990 in Romania, Ms. Nadas “organized and now coordinates the Calvin Synod School Fund Mission to provide assistance to Hungarian speaking students so they could attend the Hungarian Reformed Church’s school in Kolozsvar, Transylvania… since 2005, Gabriella Nadas has been chief operating officer of the Hungarian Association of Cleveland and helped organize the annual Hungarian Congress, which provides a forum for the discussion of issues impacting Hungarian Americans and offers educational, literacy, scientific, artistic and informative lectures, films, and seminars.”
- Ms. Valerie Schwonek Blazey has been a lifelong member of the ANM and is currently its corresponding secretary. A devout public servant, she has been involved in many activities that have benefited Cleveland such as being a 20-year member of its Board of Appeals and Zoning Board. She also once chaired the CSU’s Sacred Landmarks Research Group that, as the program notes read, “started the historical video documentation of Cleveland’s sacred landmarks-cathedrals, churches, and storefront churches-in order to permanently preserve their records” in the event that they were somehow destroyed.
In honor of such outstanding individuals, Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC was proud to be a Gold Program Sponsor for this luncheon.
As is always the case with ANM occasions, retired Judge Ralph J. Perk, Jr. did a fine job presiding over the ceremonies and we kidded Ms. Irene Morrow, Co-Founder and ANM former president, about bumping into each other at multi-ethnic holiday celebrations.
Another highlight of the program was Mr. Terrence J. Smith’s recitation of Winston Churchill’s powerful address to the United States on Christmas Eve, 1941 which concluded with following words:
“Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and formidable years that lie before us, resolved that by their sacrifice and sharing, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.”
We ourselves enjoyed sharing a table with Mr. Koussa and our good friends Mr. Joseph Meissner and Mr. James Craciun, as well as Mr. Steve Kraus, former Ohio State Representative from the 89th district. One of Mr. Kraus’ campaign volunteers, Mr. Dakota Sawyer, was accompanying him. At age 14, he was probably the youngest person in attendance, but he seemed very aware of what was taking place. As Mr. Kraus had explained to him, few people appreciate what the United States has to offer more than members of the American Nationalities Movement, because their families (or in some cases they themselves) did not always have the freedoms that we often take for granted.
Accordingly, during his opening prayer, the Reverend Father John Loejos asked that we not lose sight of “our brothers and sisters” in other land who are not free to celebrate the Holy Nativity in the manner in which we do but hopefully a time will come soon when they can.