America Abroad Media – October 30, 2014

I have attended thousands of events in the nearly 50 years I have been honored to cover Washington DC and the world. One of the more interesting ones took place at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on October 30th. It was an interfaith and inter cultural event sponsored by America Abroad Media. Press representative Janet Staihar says, “AAM promotes the free exchange of ideas through the development and dissemination of television and radio programming, from South Asia to the Middle East and Africa.”

About 400 people attended the 2nd annual awards dinner. It featured an exotic mixture of cultures, food and languages. Most people spoke Arabic and English. There were some Orthodox Jewish Rabbis among the guests. Sponsors came from the U.S, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.

For me, the highlight was meeting the real Captain Richard Phillips. Tom Hanks played him in the movie bearing his name. The real Phillips has a strong, warm, and dynamic personality. It is no wonder he was able to charm some of the brutal Somali pirates, before he was rescued by Navy Seals.

Another moving moment occurred when some families of the hijacked Flight 93 appeared on stage. They and Captain Philips were there to honor film director Paul Greengrass who was clearly moved by his award and was at first lost for words. In addition to directing the film,” Captain Phillips,” Greengrass also directed the film about that 9/11 hijacking.

In addition to Paul Greengrass, according to Staihar,” the other award winners were: influential Saudi journalist Turki Aldakhil, documentary film organization Impact Partners, and Pakistani actress Reema Khan.

A moving performance was given by Civilizations Choir of Antakya, Turkey. They performed songs in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, acknowledging the tradition of religious tolerance and coexistence.”

Connie Lawn in Washington, D.C.