VOA’s George Bistis remarks at presentation of
2007 Gusi Peace Prize in Broadcast Journalism
Manila, Philippines, November 21, 2007
President Mr. Fidel Ramos,
Vice President Mr. Noli De Castro,
Foundation Chairman Mr. Barry Gusi,
Foundation President Mr. Manuel Morato,
Honorable and Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Magadan Gambi Sainio Lahat.
My wife Barbara and I are delighted to be here tonight in the presence of so many outstanding humanitarians and ambassadors of friendship and goodwill from all the continents of our world.
We have come from the United States where President Mr. Ramos and President Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo have spent a few years of their lives attending school. The first went to West Point Military Academy while the latter chose Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. As a journalist, I felt that I should check the current president’s academic record there. I am please to report to you tonight that student Gloria Macapagal was on the Dean’s Honor List every semester at Georgetown. I also found she was a classmate of someone who later became President of the United States -- Bill Clinton.
I joined VOA in Washington D.C. after the bright Philippine student had returned to Manila. The studios, where my radio and TV programs originate from, are just a short distance away from the school she attended.
My humble work the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation has recognized is only a small part of a wider and more important effort undertaken by many distinguished personalities in the U.S., the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, who strive to promote stability, regional cooperation and peaceful coexistence among people with diverse ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds.
This award is a great and distinct honor for me. I accept it with humility; pride; a sense of enormous responsibility; and a sincere desire to redouble my efforts to prove worthy of your trust.
I share it with all my colleagues at the Voice of America, who daily search for the truth, sometimes risking their own lives, in a collective effort to provide an accurate and balanced account of the events around the globe and to be a voice for those who are still denied basic human rights and freedoms, the oppressed, the abused, the neglected and the underprivileged.
As an American proud of my ethnic heritage, I dedicate this Gusi Peace Prize to the Greek American community, that consistently upholds and defends the principles of Hellenism, freedom, democracy and compassion, on which my adopted country, the United States, has been founded.
It is the community of Dr. George Papanikolaou, inventor of the Pap test that saves millions of women’s lives every year. It is the community of Archbishop Demetrios of America, a champion of Human Rights. It is the community of Senators Olympia Snowe and Paul Sarbanes, who personified integrity in public service. It is the community of Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic Party Presidential Candidate. It is also the community of a new generation of fine lawmakers, including U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, John Sarbanes, Zachary Space, Shelley Berkley and Niki Tsongas.
What practically all of them have in common is that they are descendents of poor immigrants -- people who had nothing, absolutely nothing, except a burning desire to provide a better future for their children.
I decided to tell you their story tonight because it carries the uplifting message that with hard work, determination and a little bit of support from people with big hearts, everybody, even the most underprivileged members of our society, can one day realize their hopes and aspirations, in a free and non-violent world.
I pledge to work with the growing family of the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation to help build such a world - - a world in which everyone would be able to dream with the expectation that, when reasonable, the dream will come true. I am here to join hands with you so that together we can make tomorrow a brighter and a better day for all.
Thank you very much.