American Nationalities Movement of Ohio's
56th annual Captive Nations Dinner
July 20, 2017
In the early months of 1959 US Senator from Ohio Frank J. Lausche and Congressman Michael Feighan had submitted the Joint Congressional Resolution 111 authorizing the United States President to issue the “Captive Nations ‘Week” Proclamation. That resolution condemned the aggressive Soviet policies that had caused the subjugation of many ‘captive’ nations to harsh communist regimes. Then Cleveland Councilman Ralph J. Perk responded to Senator Lausche’s and Congressman Feighan’s request for support by bringing together a bi-partisan coalition of ethnic organizations that contacted nationality leaders all over the country and urged them to work for passage of Resolution 111. It took place on July 17, 1959 and was then signed by President Eisenhower.
The Resolution encouraged annual Presidential Proclamations focused on the plight of the captive nations with suggested appropriate ceremonies to be held every third week in July.
In 1990, the American Nationalities Movement held the first “freedom Celebration” and awarded “freedom” medals to its steadfast supporters including one to President George H. W. Bush.
The 56th annual Captive Nations Dinner was held July 20, 2017. Judge Ralph Perk Jr. is president of the ANM and served as Master of Ceremonies.
Judge Ralph Perk Jr.
After dinner, Judge Perk introduced Irene Morrow who gave a tribute to the late Judge Raymond Pianka.
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Judge Perk mentioned 2 notable deaths from the group: Andreas Traks from the Estonian community and Chester Partyka from the Polish community.
Judge Perk then told how every president including current President Trump has signed the Captive Nations Resolution. Congressman Charles Vanik, Senator Frank Lausche and Mayor Ralph Perk started the Captive Nations movement.
Judge Ralph Perk Jr. introduced Terrence J. Smith for a special presentation. Mr. Smith gave a recreation of Ronald Reagan's June 12, 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
Terrence J. Smith
Then Judge Ralph Perk Jr. and Irene Morrow presented the Freedom Award posthumously to J.J. Vencl of Corlett Movers at the American Nationalities Movement of Ohio's 56th annual Captive Nations Dinner. J.J.'s wife Kathleen accepted the award for him.
Irene Morrow, Ralph Perk Jr. and Kathleen Vencl
Irene Morrow, Kathleen Vencl and Ralph Perk Jr.
Next, the Freedom Award was presented to attorney Lt. Colonel Joseph Meissner. Meissner was a Green Beret in Vietnam and leads the Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese.
Irene Morrow, Joe Meissner and Ralph Perk Jr.
Joe Meissner called up Toan Huynh who has been a Cleveland school teacher for the last 36 years. During the Vietnam War, Huynh was kept prisoner in a communist concentration camp and he warned of the evils of communism.
Joe Meissner called up Gia Hoa Ryan and Oanh Loi-Powell to tell about the new Vietnamese Cultural Garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens chain.
Gia Hoa Ryan
It was fitting that J.J. Vencl and Joseph Meissner were honored with the Freedom Award.
American Nationalities Movement Freedom Awards
Enjoy these other images from the evening.
Crowd at Captive Nations dinner
Ralph Perk Jr. and Terrence J. Smith
George McCarthy, President of the Friendship Foundation
Faris Alameh and Sam Tanious
Joe Meissner and Pierre Bejjani
Erika and Aavo Puussaar
Mary Bejjani and Mrs and Tony Abdulkarim
Ralph Perk with Joe Meissner's book
Renata and David Jakupca
Abby Mina at the CAMEO table
Friends and family of honoree Joe Meissner
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