LOS ANGELES–Among the many events taking place during the Democratic National Convention–was a luncheon Wednesday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel–celebrating ethnic diversity in America and honoring two long-time Democratic activists–Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.).
"Ethnic-America 2000" honored the efforts of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee–the membership of which includes Armenian National Committee of America Board member Bedros Bandazian and the Armenian-American Democratic Leadership Council.
Joining representatives of the various ethnic communities were a large contingent from the Armenian-American community. Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian was among Armenian-American community representatives–as were Western Region members of the AADLC and the ANCA-WR.
"A Celebration of the American Mosaic-Ethnic America 2000" awards luncheon began with the Color Guard and the Pledge of Allegiance carried out by the Homenetmen Los Angeles Chapter scouts and the Homenetmen marching band.
The audience was treated to the beautifully conducted ceremony–which set the tone for the remainder of the event. Following the Color Guard–several religious leaders–including Western Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–offered the invocation.
The awards ceremony featured NDECC achievement awards to Rep. De Lauro and Sen. Sarbanes–each of whom emphasized the important role diversity plays in the American reality.
In her remarks–De Lauro said that intent of the gathering was to celebrate the image of the American society–which is called the "American Mosaic."
In addition to the honored guests–Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco spoke to the guests–calling on them to remain active and to take pride in their ethnic heritage.
Also addressing the gathering was Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta–who is the first Japanese-American occupying a cabinet post.
In his remarks–Mineta outlined that his parent immigrated to the US from Japan in hopes of a brighter future for them and their family.
In anecdotal form–Mineta recounted instances where he was discriminated or looked down upon by fellow Americans–who had made commen’s due to his race and ethnicity. He added that a colleague of his at General Motors once asked him–"how long have you lived in our country?"
The transportation secretary stressed that commen’s such as the aforementioned made him more resilient in advocating for ethnic diversity in America–adding that no one should be ashamed of his/her ethnic–racial or religious affiliation.
Mineta stressed that the ethnic mosaic represented at the Democratic National Convention was the true identity of the nation–commenting that while the Republican party tolerates ethnic communities–the Democratic party accepts them.
"I don’t want to be tolerated–I want to be accepted," commented Mineta.
He assured the audience that in America there cannot be any foreign faces–because all Americans–regardless of their ethnic heritage are Americans.
The event’s entertainment was provided by the Romanian "Invirtita" and Greek Dancers Gypsy Folk Ensemble of Los Angeles. In addition–Agostino Castagnola and Loverta Clark of the Los Angeles Opera–Pianist Wendy Waring and Trumpeter Geoffrey Waring offered a number of selections from various sources.
Following the singing of "God Bless America" and the benediction–the Homenetmen Scouts performed the closing Color Guard ceremonies–closing the event.