On November 24, 1989, Elias Hraoui was elected President of the Lebanese Republic under extremely difficult security conditions, after the assassination of President Rene Mouawad. In 1995, his presidency was extended for a term of three years.

President Elias Hraoui was a model of courage and endeavor in Lebanon's emergence from war to civil peace. He faced crisis, with patience and tenacity, and worked relentlessly during 9 years to anchor national unity, restore vitality to Lebanese life, rebuild the Republic, launch the process of reconstruction and liberation, and establish sovereignty on all Lebanese territory.


President Elias Hraoui Award


President Elias Hrawi Award


Three fundamental platforms of long-term scope distinguished President Elias Hraoui’s term:

1. The Culture of National Accord: which was essential in the aftermath of the war that was terminated by the Document of National Accord, also known as the Taif Agreement.

2. The Educational Enhancement Plan: the President was concerned specifically with civic education programs and with a unified history book that would ensure future generations learn about their real history and build a future free of past mistakes.

3. Modernization of the Lebanese system as well as practical endeavors to expedite and implement the optional civil law. (See the civil law draft and the cabinet proceedings of March 18, 1998 in Elias Hraoui, Building the Republic: From Segmentation to Unity Appendix, pp. 652-685).

The Commemoration Committee

Out of loyalty for the late President and his tremendous sacrifices for the sake of civil peace restoration as well as the consolidation of the essence of the National Pact and the values of the Republic, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui founded a committee to commemorate the President on July 7 of each year.

The committee was formed of "Accord" persons who shared the late President’s vision and striving:
Mrs. Mouna Hraoui
HE Mr. Raymond Raphael
Mr. Mahmoud Othman
Mr. Joseph Raidy
Dr. Antoine Messarra
Mr. Camille Menassa
Dr. Abbas El Halabi
Mrs. May Kahale
Mrs. Rose Zamel
Poet Henri Zoghaib
Mr. Samir Atallah

The committee started to meet at late President Elias Hraoui’s residence on a regular basis at the beginning of 2007.

In keeping with the late President’s wishes that the anniversary of his passing not be an occasion for grief but instead for recognition of anyone who worked or is working for Lebanon’s sake, the committee, headed by Mrs. Mouna Hraoui, decided to launch the annual President Elias Hraoui Award to be granted to a distinguished personality, which the committee would select in accordance to specified standards that are based on the award’s philosophy.

The Award

It consists of a silver cast sculpture whose design was the result of an art contest among around forty students from different departments and majors at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA). The jury had selected the most esthetic and creative entry that also best embodied the award’s philosophy: unity in diversity. The winner was Charbel Fakhry, fourth-year student at the Design Section of the School of Decorative Arts.

Charbel Fakhry’s sculpture represents a vertical rod in the shape of a braid of silver rings bound together at the base. It symbolizes national unity in its various components. In addition to this sculpture, the award includes a cash prize in the amount of ten thousand US Dollars.

The Award Philosophy

Professor Antoine Messarra wrote:
“What is the philosophy and meaning of the President Elias Hraoui Award?
It is an award for the restoration of the state’s institutions and their authority; it is an award for the revival of the Lebanese Pact and its values as well as those of the Republic; the values of Lebanon as a mission, a role, and a meaning; and it is an award for the resurrection of Lebanon after years of war, destruction, and degradation of the standards governing public life.”

This annual award is granted to a personality who, through their conduct, human rights and constitutional practice, writings, or artistic creativity, distinguishes themselves by striving for the values of democracy and the Lebanese Pact, which comprises fundamental principles, the most important of which being:
•    Coexistence and acceptance of difference
•    Respect for and preservation of freedoms, especially in the areas of civil law and education
•    Independent Arabism, conditional on Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty

First Memorial

Commemoration and Award Ceremonies (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019)

Year 2007
On the first anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, the President’s Commemoration Committee held a ceremony at the UNESCO Palace in Beirut, which was attended by a number of ministers, politicians and socialites as well as a large number of religious, intellectual, and media personalities, in addition to family and friends.

A documentary film on the departed’s exploits titled Elias Hraoui: The Recovered State was on the program and shown before the start of the ceremony, which was hosted by poet Henri Zoghaib.

A number of speakers followed; and here are excerpts from their words:

From His Excellency Nabih Berri’s speech:

“For the tranquility of his soul, a prayer for the departed whom we love, and a prayer for the present, which will not be forgotten, dismissed, or disregarded.

We believe that the Lebanon that rose during his presidency is now marching her own path to Golgotha and carrying her cross on her people’s backs to arrive at Lebanon the state of peace, Lebanon the single resolution in the face of anything that might perturb her stability and sovereignty.

To His Excellency President Elias Hraoui; a national imbued with patriotism; a fully involved and practicing deputy, who relentlessly championed democracy; and a president whose words awakened in our hearts the cities that were about to bend or die, and the cities that were about to disappear into oblivion.

To the president who is a friend, President Elias Hraoui, on this memorial which is imprinted in our memory; to the great loyalty Mrs. Mouna Hraoui is expressing; to all of you; peace.”

From His Excellency Fouad Siniora’s televised speech:

“I speak to express my esteem for the departed dignitary President Elias Hraoui, on the first anniversary of his passing. It is an esteem that stems from two things: a personal and relatively long acquaintance, which led to a relationship based on friendliness and continuous dialog, despite a difference of opinions at times; and the lofty actions which President Hraoui undertook and pervaded his presidency with, a presidency that saw the country out of the era of militias to that of the state. […]

On the first anniversary of President Hraoui’s passing, and after the second anniversary of your friend Premier Rafic Hariri’s passing, I profess to you, tender man, that solitude is overtaking us, and that missing you both is increasingly weighing down on our minds and hearts.

The moderate Lebanese who strive for a sovereign, free, Arab, open, united, and harmonious Lebanon will always remember the great work both of you did for the sake of the nation and the individual, especially in these times of distress, and it is in times of hardship that the worth of men is really known.”

From His Excellency Mr. Ghassan Tueni’s speech:

“Your presidency started off immersed in tragedy, but you ruled with civility, finesse, and smiles. Even when it came to the opposition that your democratic rule faced, as it is normal for any rule to face, you met them with civility, and they in turn reciprocated with finesse, instead of letting the rule turn into barricades here and trenches there.

Your rule wasn’t one of perfection, for there is no perfection in any rule. Ruling is for man – not gods and saints – and so is longing for justice.

Even if we are forgetful, we, Lebanese, all Lebanese, do not forget that you carried the cross of Qana to the United Nations, screaming at Israel and its allies that Lebanon is not “a wailing wall […] and is not about to be turned into a victim, no matter how much they delude themselves into believing she is an ungoverned land or a settlement of accounts.”

Let them always remember, you shouted, “that whomever plays with Lebanon’s blood shall drown in Lebanon’s bleeding.”

From His Excellency Minister Boutros Harb’s speech:

“Emotions overlap within me as I speak of this departed dignitary: Do I speak of the fellow member of Parliament, which we entered together and for the first time in 1972? Or of my colleague in the Independent Maronite Deputies Coalition, or of the ardent minister, or of the President? For I am not contented talking merely about “Abu Georges” – as I call him casually – the man I love, my lifelong friend, my best man at my wedding, and my companion at night outings, trips, and family gatherings.

You left us, your Excellency Mr. President, facing a criminal series of assassinations that targeted prominent personalities of Lebanon, assassinations that were supposed to unite us, but instead – Oh stupefaction! – ended up plunging us in dissent and conflict. And only days after your passing, we were subjected to the most hideous aggression by Israel. And then there were resignations, assassinations, sit-ins, demonstrations, and unborn initiatives. Then there was war on our heroic Lebanese army that was taken by surprise by criminal, terrorist organizations devoid of any respect for religion or for that which is sacred.

And yet, we did not learn, and we did not unite. Nonetheless, in the name of your soul, I call today for a universal national stance; a historic stance that is above personal, sectarian, and political positions; a stance of love, cooperation, and unity.

Lebanon will not die. She will stay alive as long as blood in the veins pulses with love of Lebanon.”

From His Excellency Mr. Fares Boueiz’s speech:
“As soon as he was elected President of the Republic and undertook the reunification of the country and institutions, President Elias Hraoui realized that foreign policy would not be directed solely to the exterior, but that it would bear on the making or breaking of national unity […]

During President Hraoui’s rule, Lebanon practiced a wise, nationalistic, all-embracing, honest, and transparent foreign policy that contributed in unifying Lebanon and that safeguarded Lebanon’s rights firstly, and those of the Arabs secondly, and did not betray them. During President Elias Hraoui’s rule, foreign policy was an act of faith in Lebanon, which we practiced with absolute conviction.”

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui’s Speech:
“If I were to give a title to this day, I would call it the “day of loyalty”: loyalty to a former President of the Republic; to the one who brought the country from segmentation and chaos back to a unified state of institutions and the presidency back to its legitimate seat at Baabda Palace.

Loyalty to the President who achieved national reconciliation; who instituted the first postwar constitutional assembly; who launched the reconstruction effort; who asserted Lebanon’s place in the international community and carried in tears the case of the Qana massacre to the United Nations; who restored the Lebanese youth’s hope in the future; who was an example of forgiveness, openness, and recognition of others; who safeguarded freedoms, the democratic system, justice, and human rights; who rejected violence and believed in dialog; who repudiated fanaticism and sectarianism; whose supreme sense of loyalty to his country surpassed all other loyalties; who aimed for a civil state where religion and politics are kept separate and drafted a civil marriage law; to the intrepid and bold man who took the right stances and the right decisions at the right times.

It is also loyalty to the man who took over a fragmented, so-called state and rendered it a state of cohesive elements across its institutions, administrations, military, and educational system; and who exerted his efforts, day and night, and sacrificed the vibrant years of his life to consolidate Lebanon’s sovereignty, freedom, independence, and unity, including every last one of her people and every last bit of her territory.

Today is also the day of loyalty to the man of thought, vision, ingenuity, and experience; the man who was distinguished by courage and candor, by intelligence and spontaneity, by simplicity and humility, by resoluteness and flexibility, and by generosity and charitableness; whom no office changed and no title bewildered; who was characterized by a sharp tongue and a pleasant method at once; who fortified himself with steadfastness, pride, and dignity; to the lifetime companion for whom my heart beat and who enlightened my path; who was a model spouse, father, grandfather, and friend; who surrounded his family with love and affection; whose ideas and big heart remain alive within us.”

Once all speakers were done, the President Elias Hraoui Award for the year 2007 was presented to Professor Antoine Messarra in appreciation of both his path and his writings on “Lebanon the Accord”.
The gala concluded with a wonderful lyrical concert that Ghada Shbeir performed especially for the occasion and brilliantly.

Why was the first award granted on Professor Messarra?

Because he is the university professor who was steadfastly and profoundly immersed in civil society activities, and is currently a member of the constitutional assembly, as a result of his pioneering contribution in comparative studies on Lebanon and the Lebanese Pact, and of his cultural endeavors towards promoting civil peace and democracy through numerous projects, covering all Lebanese regions.

In its dossier on Lebanon, “The One Hundred Persons that Make Lebanon Move”, L’Express International magazine (Paris), issue no. 2592, March 8-14, 2003 wrote the following about Professor Messarra:

“By watching the Lebanese society as he has done, sociologist Antoine Messarra has acquired a sort of kindly detachment that allows him to explain without condemning. An untiring observer, he has found in Lebanon matter to deepen his theses on interactive pluralism. A devoted advocate of democracy, this political sciences Professor has always been in the lead to defend freedom. Messarra does not only teach the generations of young Lebanese that have been following his courses for years true respect for one another and the need for a frail and complex regime like Lebanon to have real representation, but he also organizes seminars and publishes books in order to cast away the ghosts that tore his country apart. He has launched with the cooperation of the E.U., the  “Monitoring Democracy in Lebanon” project to guard some of this region's rare values.”

Ghassan Saoud also wrote on him in the “People” rubric of Al Akhbar newspaper on December 18, 2008: “the civil peace prophet is entrenched on the demarcation lines”. And in the “Personality” rubric of Al Balad newspaper, Diana Sakini wrote: “A thinker who tailors the law to fit his own Lebanon”.

Second Memorial

Year 2008

On the second anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, his Commemoration Committee held a cultural gala at the Pierre Abou Khater Auditorium of the College of Arts and Humanities of Saint Joseph University. It was attended by Lebanese First Lady Mrs. Wafa’ Sleiman, representing President of the Republic General Michel Sleiman; Mrs. Huda Siniora, representing Prime Minister-Designate Fouad Siniora; and a large number of officials and intellectual, legal, and media personalities, in addition to family and friends.

The gala opened with the Lebanese anthem, played by The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental-Arabic Music, led by Maestro Dr. Walid Gholmieh. Poet Henri Zoghaib then introduced the speakers. Mrs. Mouna Hraoui delivered a speech and presented the President Elias Hraoui Award for the year 2008 to the legal specialist, former MP Dr. Hassan Rifai, in appreciation of his unyielding nationalistic stances, of the authority he is on matters of constitution and law, of the significance of his political activity, and of the entirety of his professional and nationalistic entreprise for the sake of Lebanon, her role, and her entitlement to distinctiveness and uniqueness.

Excerpt from Mrs. Mouna Hraoui’s speech:
“It is once again the day of loyalty; loyalty to a great man we all missed and who lives on in our hearts and souls. […]

The best homage we can pay to such a departed dignitary is to carry on in his footsteps and keep his goals and beliefs alive in people’s minds and hearts. This is why the President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee launched an award in his name to be granted to a personality whose performance distinctly highlights and spreads these principles.

Whereas last year the Committee selected the academic researcher who is accomplished in the subject of the Pact, Dr. Antoine Messarra, I am pleased and honored to announce that this year it has selected the brilliant scholar and authority on the constitution and the law, His Excellency Dr. Hassan Rifai, a well-known name in constitutional and legal arenas and a personality requiring neither introduction nor presenting.

Considering that people are tired of speeches, we decided to hold the award ceremony in a different kind of atmosphere, away from politics and political concerns. And given that the President used to be an aficionado, indeed a lover, of authentic Lebanese and Arabic music, we invited the eminent Lebanese Maestro, Dr. Walid Gholmieh, to adorn this occasion with Lebanese music and true Arabic and Oriental heritage, and he obligingly accepted. We always believe that Lebanese creativity is unparalleled and that Lebanon’s contribution to civilization as well as her role, mission, and adherence to human and moral values are what consolidates that which is called coexistence, and which I call a common life among Lebanese.”

Upon accepting the Award, Dr. Hassan Rifai delivered a speech, saying:

“An award that is granted by a select group of intellectuals, scientists, and litterateurs is, besides being an honor, a challenge as well as an urging for more.

I am immensely proud of this tribute, and at the same time, I dread the challenge and inducement; but I am excused, for the science of administration law – which is the reason for this tribute – is an ever-changing one that evolves along with the evolution of the concepts and values of human civilization. […]

I am being honored on the commemoration day of a special president, in whose person countless qualities and fine characteristics were embodied: amiable and humble, loving and loyal, a believer without sectarian fanaticism, a synchronizer between leniency and firmness, proud and intolerant of injustice, an extremist in his nationalism, wise and logical…

Among his great qualities also was his admission of his gratefulness to his wife, whom he often used to talk endlessly about in my presence. He considered her a wife, a friend, a healer, a business manager, and a senior advisor. […] I can almost hear his spirit cheering today: Who deserves to be honored on my commemoration better than Mouna? […]

The gentleman we are commemorating and I shared a long history full of parallels: we were both students at the Oriental College in Zahle, and again at La Sagesse College in Beirut. I graduated two years before he did, and I was older by three years and twelve days. We each, had our share of the Deuxième Bureau in the elections. And we were fellow companions and friends in parliament. He escaped an assassination attempt, and I had miraculously escaped one myself previously, though my right hand did not. […]”

Led by Maestro Dr. Walid Gholmieh, the Orchestra then played a series of wonderful instrumental songs and oriental music.

Third Memorial

Year 2009
The third anniversary of the President’s passing was celebrated at his residence in Yarzeh, with the participation of a crowd of official, political, syndicate, diplomatic, cultural, and social personalities, headed by Acting Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, representing President of the Republic General Michel Sleiman; MP Abdel Latif El-Zein, representing the Parliament Speaker; His Excellency Hussein Al-Husseini; a large number of current and former ministers and MPs; Greek Orthodox Metropolitans of Mount Lebanon and Beirut, His Eminence George Khodr and His Eminence Elias Audi respectively; Press Syndicate President Mohammad Baalbaki; the honoree's family; and his great friend who flew in from Egypt, with his wife especially for the occasion, former UN Secretary-General Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali.

The residence was brimming with friends, for it was a great occasion to honor “a great person who is dear to everyone’s heart”: former Minister and MP, Journalist Ghassan Tueni, in tribute to his significant role in Lebanese life.

Everyone stood for the national anthem, and the ceremony commenced.

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui stood amongst her guests and spoke:

 “Three years ago, the President departed from this residence, which he had built and loved, and where he spent the last yearsw of his life. And for three years, his memory has lived on within this residence and its folk. […]

For this reason, and on the third anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, we decided to present the annual Award in this specific location, especially that it is going to be presented to a great person who is dear to everyone’s heart, a friend – may God prolong his life – who often frequented this residence and visited with the late President.

He is, quite simply and without ceremony, Ghassan Tueni. Forgive me if I fail to introduce him properly, bearing in mind that he is beyond introduction to begin with.

Ghassan, the 'Accord' man par excellence, established himself with his influence, nationalism, and versatility. He established himself as a model to the Lebanese who refuses to forsake the concept of a Lebanon that is unified in her diversity, even though he, too, paid dearly with the slaying of his son, Gibran, at the altar of those who have lost their path.

Today, I would like to pay homage to Ghassan, the man whose life story almost parallels that of Greek heroes in their endurance of tragedies and their insistence on standing tall in the face of misfortunes.

I would like to salute the man of multiple competences, the publisher of An-Nahar newspaper, whose voice is as clear as a rooster’s crow, the crow of truth that rises in the morning of every day.

I will not omit the professor, in the word’s true meaning of educating the younger generations, whether at universities or at An-Nahar newspaper, which graduated the finest journalists in all specialty areas to the entire Arab world. He was handed An-Nahar by family inheritance and turned it into a school, indeed a beacon, for the entire Middle East.

And of course, I will not forget, when, as Lebanon’s delegate to the United Nations, he shouted: “Let my people live!” […]

Ghassan, my friend, you will remain a beacon to the fourth Tueni generation, after Gibran the grandfather, and yourself, the father and grandfather, and Gibran, the martyr who lives on in his daughters, the promising MP Nayla, Michelle, Nadia, and Gabriella. Congratulations to you and us on the President Elias Hraoui Award. Felicitations and God bless you.”

Following Mrs. Mouna Hraoui’s speech, Poet Henri Zoghaib presented Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, who also spoke:

“My friend and colleague Ghassan Tueni embodies a differentiating period in Lebanese life, through his distinguished achievements in the fields of journalism, parliament, ministry, and diplomacy. He enriched the positions he held with his knowledge and experience, and he is a leading advocate of dialog in a harmonious atmosphere that is rich in diversity and strong in unity and adhesion, and of the maintenance of the Lebanese national unity in terms of territory, people, and homeland. For all that, we owe him our gratitude and appreciation.

The honoree on this occasion is the man who assumes delicate positions and always supplements them, for his country Lebanon and the greater nation have always been his perpetual beacon for achieving peace and wellbeing.

I have known my friend Ghassan Tueni for over half a century, starting with a meeting through a common friend, Bechara Takla, owner of Al-Ahram newspaper, and extending and continuing till now.

On another level, if we consider what he himself liked, we find that journalism runs in his blood, be it in terms of knowledge, experience, or heredity, for he is the son of the capable Gibran Tueni, and he is the dean of enlightened journalism in Lebanon, and, as such, he always shone and was always a deep thinker and analyst.”

His Excellency Fouad Sinora then followed and began his speech by conveying President of the Republic Michel Sleiman’s salutations and “his immense appreciation of the honoree, his friend Ghassan Tueni”. He went on to say:

“A free press – and an enlightened, brave opinion – is a choice, a quest, an effort, a craft, and a responsibility as well. As for national action, it is first and foremost an awareness and a responsibility. And Ghassan Tunei was – in addition to his first role – a minister, a member of parliament, and a Lebanon delegate to the United Nations. Through his writings in An-Nahar, his work in public affairs positions, and his missions, he distinguished himself in three things: his vigilance to preserve Lebanon as a nation, a state, freedom, and a reputation; his championing of a modern state and its institutions; and his protecting of the honor of the profession of politics and public affairs. […]”

He continued with difficulty as tears loomed in his eyes:

“Ghassan Tueni is the Lebanese’s elder and their solid pillar when it comes to receiving, enduring, and rationalizing familial tragedies. Profound faith, upright orthodoxy, lofty nationalism, endeared Arabism, and a heart that embraces pain without breaking, demeaning, or presumption are all ever present on his mind.

Ghassan Tueni is the free-press man. Ghassan Tueni is the eminent politics-and-public-affairs man. Ghassan Tueni is the eminent-culture man. Ghassan Tueni is a great soul; he is the father, the brother, and the grandfather of the Lebanese’s martyrs’. His is well worth this salute and this ovation from all of us on this majestic Lebanese evening.”

Thereafter, Poet Zoghaib invited “the president of the state of An-Nahar” – as he introduced him – to speak. Despite the weight of his years, Ghassan Tueni insisted on standing up and spoke in all spontaneity:

“It is hard for me to say anything that may be worth your attention or the favor I have received. Premier Siniora’s word has special significance, given that I never once spared him in my articles.”

Applause and laughter filled the hall before he went on:

“If I wished to recall one thing from President Hraoui’s term, it would be a matter he entrusted me with at the beginning of his presidency – and this especially in the presence of Dr. Boutros Ghali – which was the coordination of the negotiations between Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. My fellow Boutros knows that I suggested something the rest of the government members did not like. But my job was to coordinate, not to be a minister or any other thing. I told the President: I think we should send for Ghali. He asked me: what for? I replied: so he can tell us how to negotiate with Israel. We don’t know how to; nobody does, and it is a most difficult matter.”

After he told the story of how he entered journalism, titled “My Father Was Right”, Ghassan Tueni dedicated this homage to “the earliest colleagues at An-Nahar”.

It was time then for the Award, which Ghassan Tueni accepted to thunderous applause and while surrounded by officials, his wife and companion Chadia, his beloved granddaughters MP Nayla and Michelle Tueni, and young Nadia and Gabriella Gibran Tueni.

It was an extremely emotional moment, after which his colleague Pierre Sadek surprised him with “a gift of his own making and inspiration”, which was a symbolic portrait of Mr. Tueni.

Tens of congratulators flocked to “the professor”, and then the guests moved to the residence’s garden, where a chic cocktail awaited.

Fourth Memorial

Year 2010
On the fourth anniversary of the President’s passing, the President Elias Hraoui Award was bestowed on His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant, during an official ceremony that was held at the Patriarchate in Bkerke on July 2, 2010.

The ceremony was attended by Lebanese President of the Republic General Michel Sleiman and his wife Wafa’, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Archbishop and Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See Dominique Mamberti, representing His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Nuncio Gabriele Caccia, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, His Excellency Hussein Al-Husseini, His Excellency Fouad Siniora and his wife, and a large crowd of current and former ministers and MPs as well as religious, diplomatic, and social personalities.

The ceremony opened with the national anthem, which was followed by a welcoming speech by poet Henri Zoghaib on behalf of the President’s Commemoration Committee.

Archbishop Mamberti spoke afterwards:

“The occasion that gathers us today is a token of appreciation and loyalty to two personalities who have marked and continue to mark Lebanon’s contemporary history, and they are late President Elias Hraoui and His Beatitude Patriarch Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant for the Maronites.

Today, the President Elias Hraoui Award is being granted to His Beatitude Patriarch Sfeir who has acted as a zealous witness and a guide in a society whose very points of convergence were threatened and who personified the saying that Lebanon is a mission of unity in diversity, and that during the most tragic of circumstances, especially during the postwar period and the multiple fluctuations the country underwent.

President Hraoui undertook the tasks of reconstituting institutions, consolidating civil peace, and launching the institutional values of Lebanese diversity, and he used to repeat His Holiness Pope John Paul II’s words: “O Lebanese, Lebanon is not dead, can you make your country become the cradle of the civilization of love? You are the people of all civilizations.”

Subsequently, Minister Boutros Harb gave a speech:

“The selection of His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir for the President Elias Hraoui Award this year is of much significance, for Bkerke has and will always be the fortress of deterrence for the depraved, and the Patriarchate’s custodian is the man of the past, of the present, and of the future.

Is he not worthy of all of Lebanon’s glory? Yes! Because he is jealous of her survival; keen on her everlastingness; and dedicated in his love for her, embracing her being and devoted to it, no matter how hard the Judases try to deface this glory.

Your Beatitude, our father, here is the President Elias Hraoui Award; and, although you sometimes disagreed with him, you cannot but acknowledge his courage and initiative and the fact that he mended a divided, shattered state. Bestowing this Award on your Beatitude is a pledge that we take before God and your Eminence that, no matter how much we may differ in style and means of expression, we will always remain your children and will always defer to you as our father.”

Then came Mrs. Mouna Hraoui’s turn to speak:

“That the President Elias Hraoui Award has the honor today, in the presence of the country’s head and the state’s dignitaries, of being bestowed on His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir is a matter of great significance. But that this Award crowns acts of giving is a modest gesture in comparison with all of what Cardinal Sfeir has crowned Lebanon with as the head of the Patriarchate.

The Award is being conferred today to His Beatitude the Patriarch of Lebanon and the Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant, because he is the patriarch of freedom and independence in the midst of dependencies, subjugations, concessions, and bargains with freedom; because he is the source of enlightened thought and direct, honest, truthful, courageous, and peaceful speech all at one; because he is the patriarch of immutable values, which do not alter when positions and power relations change; and because he is the patriarch of ther Lebanon that is a model for democratic management of diversity, and the patriarch of the Lebanon that perpetuates the ‘Accord’ spirit.”

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui then presented the President Elias Hraoui Award for the year 2010 to His Beatitude the Patriarch, who said in his word of thanks:

“We thank the honorable Mrs. Mouna Hraoui, the late President’s spouse, for the gesture she wished to honor us with by presenting us with the late President Elias Hraoui Award on this occasion. And as we thank her for this gift, which will remain a valuable memento at the Patriarchate, we pray that the Lord keep her and her children and relatives safe and well.

So much can be said about President Hraoui, but we will content ourself with saying that he led the country to the port of safety under extremely delicate circumstances and in turbulent seas and that he knew how to be flexible when the situation called for flexibility and how to be tough when toughness was required. He practiced politics since his youth, as he grew up in a political environment, and both his late uncle, former MP and Minister Youssef Hraoui and his late brother Georges Hraoui, former MP aqnd Minister, attest to his venerable lineage.

Lebanon’s history will remember him as a wise leader, who strengthened Lebanon’s ties of cooperation and cordiality with her neighbors and remained loyal to this good land where he grew and for which he exerted every effort to maintain its distinctive character and keep its borders protected.

The late President Elias Hraoui is accompanying us from his final resting place, and he is accompanying the country so that she anchors at the port of peace and carries on with her global mission of glory, of generous giving, and of sacrifice for the sake of the good. It is known that the tree of the nation does not spring up and rise tall unless her people water it with their hearts’ blood.”

During the ceremony, Miss Joumana Medawar performed religious hymns inspired by the occasion.

Afterwards, everyone toasted the occasion in the Patriarchate’s beautiful garden.

Fifth Memorial

Year 2011
On the fifth anniversary of his passing, the President Elias Hraoui Award was bestowed on His Excellency Mr. Fouad Boutros, in tribute to his significant and honorable political role in Lebanon’s modern history.

The award was delivered during a reception at the late President’s residence in Yarzeh on July 7, 2011 in the presence of His Excellency Minister Samir Mokbel, representing President of the Republic General Michel Sleiman; the Parliament Speaker; the Prime Minister; the honoree’s family; and a large crowd of variously affiliated political figures and of religious, cultural, social, and media personalities.  

Following the national anthem and poet Henri Zogheib opening the ceremony, journalist Sarkis Naoum gave a speech in which he evoked historical events and anecdotes about the honoree that all bespoke the moderate, wise, and solid statesman, who upheld the values of the Republic throughout the different periods of his life and was characterized by integrity, steadfastness, and perspicacity. And of what was stated in the speech:

“The Lebanese must accredit Fouad Boutros for having entered politics by virtue of his competence, not as an inheritor, as a son to a family of politicians or a financier, as a protégé of some foreign body, or as a former militia mogul… He did not turn into a professional of politics but rather into a statesman, and when he retired from politics, he became an authority whose opinion and suggestions all factions prize.”

Mr. Sarkis Naoum concluded by saying: “My friend and mentor Fouad Boutros; congratulations on this honor conferred on you by the President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee. May God prolong your life and safeguard you a guide for a Lebanon that is sovereign, free, independent, democratic, united, and whose people enjoy equal rights and duties… You may well be the only wise beacon alive today.”

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui then delivered a speech, in which she said:

“I welcome you one by one at the residence of President Elias Hraoui and thank you with all my heart for being here to partake in the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the President’s passing through the bestowing of his annual award on yet another icon from Lebanon, one who further elevates this award which has been conferred since the year 2007 on persons of wise realism and astute Accord thinking.

After Professor Antoine Messarra, Dr. Hassan Rifai, His Excellency Mr. Ghassan Tueni, and His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, the President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee unanimously agreed to bestow the award for the year 2011 on His Excellency Mr. Fouad Boutros, whose mere name epitomizes the loftiest values of the Republic.

Among the most prominent Republic’s values which Fouad Boutros lived and breathed and practiced: recovering the sense of politics – in terms of substance, purpose, and conduct; the rule of law; and the preservation of the public interest; which, if we grasp their full dimensions, all transcend family, sect, faction, and party and amount, therefore, to national unity, civil peace, development, and the transition from Lebanon the arena to Lebanon the nation and the mission.

Fouad Boutros is a champion of “the return of the Republic from segmentation to unity”, and that is also, as you know, the title of President Elias Hraoui’s book. The late President used to hold today’s honoree, may God prolong his life, in high affection and esteem.

Fouad Boutros is among the greats who “marked Lebanon’s history”. His predicament as well as greatness lie in the fact that the level to which he elevates politics is high, so high.

No matter what is said about him cannot do him justice, he who is known for his steadfast realism and his sense and standards of legal rights that aim to guarantee freedoms, stability, civil peace, and a Lebanon that is independent, sovereign, a state, and a nation.

I fear that if I say more, I may wound the modesty of our eminent honoree. Hence I shall content myself, before I conclude, with addressing him to tell him: thank you, Your Excellency Mr. Fouad Boutros, for what you are, and for who you are.

The President Elias Hraoui Award grows through you twice today: because the Committee nominated you for it, and because you accepted it.

Congratulations to you and us on this award.”

Afterwards, the President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee presented the Award to the honoree, who spoke and said:

“I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the honorable Mrs. Mouna Hraoui and to the members of the President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee for granting me the annual President Elias Hraoui Award and for holding this celebration which has a profound impact on me, especially the word of Mrs. Mouna Hraoui, whose benevolence extends to more than one area, hoping to be worthy of this honor.

I would also like to thank my friend Sarkis Naoum for his word, in which he overwhelmed me with his affection and presented me as a legal aid and a judge and then a member of parliament and a minister through some of my stances and achievements to eventually evaluate my trajectory and performance in the world of politics.

There is no room on this occasion for me to engage in politics; hence I will content myself with a few questions that some politicians’ stances and statements in these difficult times elicit: Where is Lebanon the pride and dignity?

Where is Lebanon the beauty and tranquility? Where is Lebanon the crossroad of civilizations, where the free and the intellectuals take refuge from countries that narrowed their horizons? Nay: where is Lebanon the independence? And Lebanon the coexistence and national balance? Let us hope the future proves these questions no longer warranted and void of merit.

Everyone then drank the toast of the honoree, who cut the cake with his wife and Mrs. Mouna Hraoui, surrounded by friends and well-wishers.

Six Memorial
Year 2012
On the sixth anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, the Commemoration Committee honored His Excellency Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri in acknowledgment of his exemplary national role. Mrs. Mouna Haraoui, President of the Committee, awarded him with the 2012 prize at a ceremony held on the 10th of July at the UNESCO Palace, Beirut. His Excellency President Michel Sleiman and the First Lady, honorary guest Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri and his spouse, Prime Minster Najib Mikati, Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari, many other ministers and deputies, political, religious and partisan figures, various diplomatic, academic and syndicates personalities, educational and economical institutions, civil society organizations and NGOs representatives and a large number of scientists and members of the media attended the ceremony.

After the National Anthem, Pr. Suheil Matar had an opening statement, followed by three speakers, first of whom was ex-minister Jean Obeid who said: “On behalf of a special and brave President who always took initiative, this institution is proud to award a great and intelligent man of courage with this award. Between the three of us there was a long friendship that grew over more then 20 years, full of meaningful experiences.“ 

Addressing President Nabih Berri, he continued, “This event isn’t just to decorate your already laden shoulder with more stars and medals, but also to add responsibilities on top of the ones you already have.” 

Minister Ghazi El Aridi, second speaker to take the lectern and representing Member of Parliament Walid Jumblatt, said: 

“This evening is blessed, an exceptional gathering during exceptional times. Being invited by an important national institution bearing the name of a great man in the history of this country, who was a brave and a politically skilled key player … who nurtured relationships with various leaders, and who was devoted in the toughest and harshest circumstances to protect Lebanon and save it at a time when we were at dangerous crossroads… An occasion where we see such a great national institution bearing the name of a great patriotic man and now honoring another great patriotic man… Today, standing amongst you, I proudly represent a wonderful man who’s greeting you all, specially our brother President Nabih Berri”. 

Following him was Prime Minister Mikati, who said: “The person we are celebrating today, is indeed, an exemplary man of State. The speaker of the Parliament is a man of state, because he knows that continuation is necessary for a country… and he is a man of State, he comes up with solutions upon his experience in politics and politicians.” 

Then it was Mrs. Mouna Haraoui’s turn to speak, saying “I recall with you a man who was at the forefront of this Committee dedicated to the memory of President Hraoui. A man who won this very same award back in year 2009, I speak of none other then our dear Ghassan Tueni, the dean of word and freedom. In memory of his soul, his legacy and the stands, let us applaud him.

The choice of selecting Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri as honoree of the 2012 award, was probably one of late President Hraoui himself after having worked together closely in a national, democratic and honest manner, with an emphasis on strengthening institutions and holding on to the country and its land …”, she added, “We come here today to confirm to you President Berri that, in fact, you deserve this award, and after 20 years taking on the leadership of Parliament, our hope is to continue leading the way and guiding Taef agreement in an effort to save this country at difficult times when we can no longer differentiate between its spring and fall (…)” 

In closing, Mrs. Haraoui handed over the award to the honorary guest who began with emotional terms: “From a President of Lebanon, from the land of Zahleh and the waters of the Berdawni”, to “a Leader of Lebanon full of rebellion, courage and bravery.” 

He then pointed at the wounds of the fatherland Lebanon, saying: “Bleeding is in the north or the south, anxiety is in Beirut and the Bekaa, and sadness in Sidon …” 

And to the Late President, he had these words: “As for us, our Late President, it appears we have not learned any lesson, unfortunately. We still approach dialogue and agreements, under the patronage of His Excellency President Michel Sleiman. But its one step ahead and one step backward, for we still bear on our shoulders the burdens of our fears, when, what we really need is to build confidence and trust in each other and in ourselves.” 

He ended his speech addressing Mrs. Haraoui: “Today, Madam, I accept this honor considering it of the Late President, if only to reiterate his national and exemplary role, and in recognition for his loyalty and dedication to our country.”

Seven Memorial
Year 2013
On the seventh anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, the Commemoration Committee held its annual ceremony in the President’s residence in Yarzeh, where the 2013 award was presented to His Excellency Mr. Michel Edde, in tribute to his noble political career and his strategic role to the nation. The event was attended by First Lady Mrs. Wafa Sleiman, representing the President of the Republic General Michel Sleiman, Deputy Abdullatif Al-Zein, representing Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, Minister Nicolas Nahas, representing caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Prime Minister-designate Tamam Salam and his wife, H. E. Mr. Fouad Seniora and his wife, His Beatitude Patriarch Beshara Boutros Al-Rahi, His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, and several political, religious, diplomatic, academic, economic, and media figures.

After the National Anthem, Mr. Camille Menassa gave an opening speech. He said, “His Christian upbringing led him to delve into religion, and he became known as ‘the supporter of the faith and Maronites’; his search for justice led him to delve into Marxism, and he became known for his socialist leanings. He was referred to as ‘the red Maronite’ and then ‘the red millionaire’. His name was mentioned more than once as a potential candidate for presidency, but circumstances prevented this from happening. He was appointed minister five times, and he excelled in his positions because he was there to give, and not to take.”

He added, “Michel Edde did not go into politics for glory or wealth, because he does not need them. He did it out of conviction and faith in Lebanon, his homeland, and a readiness to serve, hence his keenness on the national pact and his struggle to preserve it through his political stances and social actions, working towards the unity of his country’s citizens, who are the ultimate guardians of the pact.”

He concluded, “Michel Edde is a man of pacts, and I can almost hear President Elias Hraoui from where he is, congratulating the award committee members on their choice and noting that Michel Edde is worthy of it.”

Judge Abbas Al-Halabi also made a speech, in which he said, “I am honored to be speaking on this occasion, as we present the President Elias Hraoui Award to former minister Michel Edde, because today we are witnessing the past, the present, and the future. It is rare for one person to encompass a community’s history, legacy, and experiences through his thinking and writing. It is also rare for a person to represent the characteristics and values that have defined the lives of Christians, in the same way that his career has influenced their everyday and their country.”

He added, “To limit speaking of the man who is being honored in terms of religious affiliation is to reduce his role and his performance, and minimize the importance of a man who marked politics with his calm demeanor (…). He did not forget that Lebanon is an idea before being a state, a value before being an authority, and a meaning before being politics.”

Then Al-Halabi addressed Edde directly, saying, “You inspired, wrote, published, and worked hard at your newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour, and you were never tired of raising people’s awareness on dangers, the nation, the region, and Lebanon. You were a pioneer in this field, preceded by Michel Chiha and others, but you coupled writing with actions, and work with struggle. I salute you for what you have achieved.”

He added, “You are a man of moderation and stances, a man of dialogue and reconciliation, a man of agreement and pacts.”

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui said in her speech, “A lot has been said about Michel Edde, a cultivated man, a man of law and justice, with a great heart and sympathy for social issues, as you all know, despite his extreme humility in these matters. A lot has been said about Michel Edde, the son of a middle-class family, and the successful businessman who was known as ‘The Red Patriarch’ for his sensitivity to livelihood concerns in society and his support for the most needy and for institutions in the cultural and artistic domains.”

She added, “The Ministry of Culture and Higher Education came to be through his initiative in the government of 1992, and he personally drafted its first steps and policies, and managed the most difficult files wisely, adopting a rational democratic approach, and included specialists and officials from various fields. He was known for his wisdom and moderation in dealing with all issues, namely those of belonging, identity, cultural plurality, openness to the region and the world. This is in addition to his attachment to the Lebanese land, exploring its precious heritage, and preserving its human memory, the memory of survival and civilization. In this sense, I personally dealt with Michel Edde through my duties at the National Heritage Foundation, in which he was an essential member of its Board of Directors. I’m a witness to his generous mind, thought, and heart, and his unwavering support to any project related to heritage, arts, culture, or humanitarian issues.”

She went on, “Regarding his noble political career and struggle for establishing the values of the Republic and the values of Lebanon as a country, a lot has been said but it still does not do him justice. He has a rich singular personality, and his stances are exceptional, linking what was severed and representing a bridge at fateful moments in Lebanon’s history…

How we need him today, at a time when the values of the Republic have deteriorated and divisions have emerged in our national unity, with the rise of muscle-flexing, submission, and distancing from the culture of pacts. He is attached to his Maronite religion and to the Lebanese entity, and is open to Arabism and the Palestinian cause. Through his work in the public sphere and his position at the head of the Maronite League and the Maronite Foundation in the World, he worked on enhancing the attachment of Maronites to Lebanon and their commitment to coexistence. He also worked at every stage of his political career on enhancing Christian-Muslim dialogue and establishing enlightened national unity and civil peace built on accepting differences, rejecting violence, and respecting freedoms.”

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui ended her speech by saying, “Dear friend, it is an honor for us to present you “the President Elias Hraoui Award Congratulations.”
She then gave the award to Michel Edde, who said, “I’m very honored to receive this award, and I thank you for it. This moment fills me with exceptional joy, as it brings me back to my everlasting bond with my friend, the late President Elias Hraoui. He was the president who took Lebanon from segmentation to unity, and rightly took bold strategic decisions and carefully executed them. To remember his mandate is to remember his courage in implementing fundamental initiatives with historical dimensions, after Lebanon as a state and a nation had been in a precarious position. He united the country, restored the state’s unity and legitimacy, rebuilt its institutions, united the army, dismantled the militias, launched the issue of the return of the displaced and followed up on it, prevented the spread of the Palestinian factions and put an end to their infringements, thus enshrining the presence of the state, whose sovereignty cannot be violated or divided. He also opened the roads and prepared the path to civil peace and life, and set up the foundations for economic revival and the survival of Lebanon, despite Israel’s repeated attempts to keep it down and demand surrender.” 

He added, “Based on these achievements, the Lebanese have a right to acknowledge and be proud that President Hraoui turned Lebanon from ruins to a vital entity. How serene he was in his farewell speech, when he said: I received a country that was in the past and I now hand a country that is heading towards the future.”

Following Michel Edde’s speech, attendees drank a toast in his honor.

Eight Memorial
Year 2014
On the occasion of the eighth year anniversary of the late President Elias Hraoui’s passing, a ceremony was held at the President’s residence in Yarze, and the 2014 President Elias Hraoui's prize was awarded to MP and Former Minister Walid Jumblatt "the Lebanese National Independent Decision”.  

The ceremony was attended by Former President Michel Sleiman and his wife, Mrs. Randa Berri representing her husband Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri , Mrs. Lama Salam representing her husband Prime Minister Tammam Salam , Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his wife, Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his wife, Minister of National Defense Samir Mokbel, Minister of Information Ramzi Jreij, Minister of Telecommunications Boutros Harb, Minister of Health Wael Abu Faour, Minister of Agriculture Akram Chehayeb, Minister of Environment Mohammad Machnouk, Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas, Apostolic Nuncio Gabriel Katchea, Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri, Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdi, French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli, Ambassador/ Head of EU Delegation Angelina Eichhorst, Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon Colette Takeyh, Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Giuseppe Morabito, Acting Kuwaiti Ambassador Mohamed Waqayan, President of the Lebanese Press Federation Mohammad Baalbaki, Head of Editors Syndicate Elias Aoun, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut Boulos Matar, Metropolitan Greek-Catholic Melkite Bishop Cyril Bustros, as well as former and current MPs. Also in attendance were  Mrs. Nora Jumblatt, his son Timor and daughter Dalia, Najib Jumblatt, Jumblatt’s friends and  a crowd of officials.

The opening ceremony speech was delivered by MP Marwan Hamadeh who memorably said: “If I drew up my memoirs, they would form a brief chapter of Walid Jumblatt’s memoirs. In the early seventies, I met Jumblatt for the first time during his graduation ceremony at the American University. Professor Fouad Haddad, the Registrar, a Catholic from Baakleen, was reading the promotion's graduation list and three names were etched in my memory: Emile Pierre Edde, Bechara Khalil El Khoury and Walid Kamal Jumblatt.      
After almost half a century, the name of “Walid Jumblatt” is still well-known but has various different echoes. Is Jumblatt the most exciting person? The most famous? The most capricious? The most intransigent? Does he have a personality too complicated to be understood by others, or does he tie them up in knots with his genius dialectic, his leadership qualities, his perspicacious analysis of current events and his speculations about conflicts and controversies? 

I have never seen Walid Jumblatt happier than the day the first "reconciliation of the mountain" took place under the auspices of late President Elias Hraoui, man of this place and this prize. The first "reconciliation of the mountain": Mazraat El Chouf, under the peaks of Jabal el Barouk and its high cedars.  This event was a milestone in his political life, a chapter that has recently witnessed an unexpected reconciliation between Brih’s inhabitants who were separated and then rounded up on the same stubborn nature.  
The late President Hraoui’s wisdom paved the way for an era that has witnessed the dissolution of militias, the collection of their weapons, the rise of the resistance against the Israeli enemy, and the launching of construction works to rescue and boost an economy that had been chronically suffering. That is for what Jumblatt approved and supported the extension of Abu George’s term, and it is for these same reasons, that he absolutely rejected President Emile Lahoud’s election and later on the extension of his term. He has always translated the term of "non-war”, by insisting on peace, and “non-fragmentation” by further holding on to conventions.      

The President Elias Hraoui’s Prize awarded tonight to Walid Beik by Mrs. Mouna and in the name of Abu George, is truly worthy for the "beik" in his milieu, homeland and surroundings, as well at political, cultural and developmental levels. He truthfully deserves it, alongside the heroes of those tough times, who have made unremitting efforts to extricate Lebanon from disasters that inflicted its homes.       
There is no better place than the home of late President Elias Hraoui and no more deserving person than Mrs. Mouna to award a prize that has such great national symbolism.” 

In her speech, Mrs. Mona Hraoui stated:
 “I am glad to see you gathered here to honor the Leader Walid Jumblatt by offering him late President Elias Hraoui’s award. I see around good and bright faces, and it seems that by your distinctive presence, you confirm the decision of the President Commemoration Committee in granting the prize to Mr. Walid Jumblatt.    

It is extremely hard for me to present Walid Jumblatt: 
The Lebanese Leader whose leadership surpasses the small country,
or the Head of the powerful centrist Parliamentary bloc, the Former Minister, the permanent Deputy, or the Leader of the Progressive Socialist Party established by late prominent Leader Kamal Jumblatt,
or the holder of the historical legacy for a founding confession of the Lebanese Entity, according to Father Joachim Mubarak.

He is the undefeatable key player in the Lebanese political combination.  
He is always keen on maintaining pluralism, freedom and dignity. He has helped making Lebanon, the small country and big role, a more peaceful place where everyone can participate in ruling and living within the National Pact.

Walid Jumblatt has a rich heritage stemming from his family’s history of hospitability with open arms. Mokhtara’s palace is an open door to everyone from all areas and trend. Jumblatt’s leadership is not only derived from a home nor from a history, but also from the love and loyalty of people who consider him a symbol of generosity and a source of trust.
Mrs. Hraoui also said: Walid Jumblatt is reputed for his firm realism, his pragmatism, his accurate political predictions and decision-making and his human rights standards that ensure freedoms, stability and civil peace as well as the Independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, State and Nation.  

Furthermore, Walid Jumblatt is known for his wisdom. He may be the target of criticism but history will show that prioritizing the group’s interest at his own expenses and overlooking what is being said about him was the best course of action.  He is not a centrist as much as he is realistic. 
Having said that, and being only a few meters away from the Presidential Palace where the presidential chair remains vacant leaving us anxious respecting the National Pact, the Constitution and the Institutions that it is high time we rise up to elect a President of the Republic in order to preserve our entity and rescue our country.      
Let me tell you, Walid, that every confession needs a person like you.

To sum up, I would like to reveal your loyalty to late President Hraoui, adding that you are the last person, along with your daughter Dalia; he received before he left Baabda Palace. Her presence there with you highlights your mutual and personal relationship. You also showed your loyalty to President Michel Sleiman by displaying his portrait in the lounge of Mokhatara Palace. 
These are characteristics of the prominent man you are.
You fully deserve Late President Elias Hraoui’s prize.!
Mrs. Mona Haraoui handed the prize to Mr. Walid Jumblatt who ended the ceremony by giving his speech:
“I extend, first and foremost, my heartfelt thanks to President Haraoui’s Commemoration Committee for this honor and my sincerest thanks to Mrs. Mouna Haraoui who has given Lebanon and Lebanese children a lot of hope, as well as I would like to recall with you, on this evening, His Excellency, late President Elias Hraoui.  

Amidst President Hraoui’s era, petty states sprang up and increased, aggravating the absurd Civil War, and we were all heroes thanks to his vision and his understanding for the crisis elements and roots. Once more we have moved into political actions after being infringed by the backstreet wars, leading to re-unite the Lebanese Army after disarming militias (…).     

By that same token, we do not forget that we have agreed upon keeping the Resistance’s weapons until the liberation of the occupied territory that has happened in year 2000, until later on the dispute arose again about the demarcation and limitation that was unanimously approved in the 2006 National Dialogue. Nowadays and more than ever, it is imperative to stick to our existing borders at a time when our region is witnessing a re-demarcation of its borders among states accordingly to new rules contrary to those that have been espoused in previous eras (…).    

The era of late President Hraoui, in collaboration with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri saw plenty of impressive achievements. Despite the defects of the text and of its implementation and all criticisms we had on the recovery plan at the times, and although the confessions were not abolished and the Senate was established, the application of TAEF agreement proved to be a guardian and national umbrella that led to security, monetary stability, and socio-economic stability.
Under his auspices, we made tremendous efforts to forget the War and turn the page and open a new chapter by the reconciliation of the Mountain and initiating the process of the return of displaced persons, especially in 2001 historical reconciliation in the presence of Patriarch Sfeir in Mokhtara. Hraoui was adamant to activate this file that was primordial at the level of cohesion among the Lebanese people after long years of war.         

In President Hraoui’s era, there was a faint hope that the optional civil marriage would be implemented, but this didn’t happen for political and non-political reasons; it gave us the hope that we could break the cycle of the sectarian system that we have been living in since the Independence of Greater Lebanon. Hraoui was brave, bold and honest in his stance and his insistence.  
To sum up and in the hope of electing a new President who will start his term by carrying on the political constants and postulates of President Michel Sleiman’s era, specially the “Baabda Declaration”; it is inevitable, sooner or later, that all involved persons in Syria will exit because of negative outcomes and repercussions of such involvement on Lebanon in light of the regional escalating ignition. Despite all difficulties, we have to reconsider the policy of self-distancing policy which may solely halt further political and security risks in Lebanon.

May the soul of President Elias Hraoui rest in peace; he was a symbol of Lebanon both before and after the TAEF agreement was reached. 
My warm and coridal greetings to you all!”    

Ninth Memorial
Year 2015
On the 9th anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, a ceremony was held at the President’s residence in Yarze.   

This year, the award was granted to Her Excellency, former Minister Leila Al-Solh Hamadeh, "Since humanitarian work consolidates well-rooted connection between citizens and their country."

The ceremony was attended by former President General Michel Sleiman and his wife, Mrs. Randa Berri representing her husband the Speaker of the Parliament, Mrs. Lama Salam representing her husband the Prime Minister, Archbishop of Beirut Boulos Matar representing His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, Apostolic Nuncio Gabriel Katcha, with many friends, political, religious, diplomatic figures and media.

Mr. Camille Menassa, member of the commemoration committee, opened the ceremony and said:
"We are meeting for the ninth time since President Hraoui left us, honoring once again his name with an award that is granted to outstanding personalities who contributed in their respective fields to a better Lebanon and promoting its distinctive identity. Both the giver and the receiver of the award deserve recognition... Honoring Leila Al-Solh Hamadeh, is also honoring what she represents in terms of patriotism and generosity... "

From his side, Minister of Telecommunications, Boutros Harb thanked Al-Waleed Bin Talal Foundation, lightening on the foundation’s ability to overcome regional and sectarian struggles. Addressing Mrs. Leila Al-Solh Hamadeh, Harb said:" Your secret is that you were raised in the house of Lebanon’s independence, the home of Riad Al-Solh (...) and your secret is that you carry the great legacy of both Riad Al-Solh and Majed Hamadeh, and also the duty that comes with inheriting such important names."

Following Mr. Harb was the Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas who gave quite a poetic speech.  He believed that "Hamadeh’s work is guided by the ‘Tarboosh’(Lebanese traditional cap) of Riad Al-Solh.”

Derbas stated that Mrs. Mouna Hraoui " manages the award with the tenderness and attention of a mother, not only to commemorate and to honor a great man, but primarily, to attest that with a strong will, successes will stem from the rubble. "

For her part, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui declared: "We are meeting today around the true essence of the National Charter, which was the main catalyst to launch the President Elias Hraoui Award, and to grant it to those who work on consolidating this Charter." 
She added that "this year’s winner brings even more value to the award, not only because Leila Al-Solh Hamadeh is the friend of this house, but also because she assembles in her person the legacy of a great family from one side, and a wide set of values and principles that have contributed to make her an exceptional woman in unusual times from the other side.  
While sectarian tensions and political divisions in Lebanon are threatening the national peace, and while regional conflicts are gaining ground, Mrs. Al-Solh Hamadeh appears to be a uniting force, refusing to be isolated in one sect or the other, and insisting to build bridges between regions and communities.” 

Mrs. Hraoui pointed out that “President Hraoui’s admiration to Riad Al-Solh began when he was still young...".  And she concluded by saying:
"Congratulations to you and to us on this award, and let me express to you Leila my personal and special appreciation to you as a friend and to our relationship that lasted for many years, and I am looking forward to the many more to come".

Mrs. Mouna Hraoui then handed the award to Mrs. Leila Al-Solh Hamadeh, who closed the ceremony with a speech in which she considered Elias Hraoui "the holder of the trusteeship of Riad Al-Solh". 
She asked: "Who is ruling today in Lebanon? Who is filling the void? We call for dialogue and reject decisions; we ask for noninvolvement and fill the streets with weapons... We complained about authoritarianism, and now we lack authority, all in the name of sovereignty.
Is it right for foreigners to impose their conditions on the election of a new president while the country is ours?
Today, the people are standing on the streets, protesting and denouncing oppression. Their secularism spreads hope, but their demands remain naïve. They are unaware that the real danger lies in two million Syrian refugees present in every city and town of Lebanon. Rather than asking for help for the people to return to their homelands, we demanded for the right to shelter them. And, if they will stay for long, then the ruler will come down from its throne into the streets and protest with the people. "

Tenth Memorial
Year 2016
On the tenth anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui, Chair of the Commemoration committee granted the 2016 Award to Reverend Father Pr. Salim Daccache S.J., President of Saint Joseph University.

The ceremony took place at Pierre Abu Khater Auditorium - Faculty of Arts and Humanities, on Monday, July 11, 2016.

The Ceremony was attended by the representative of the Speaker of Parliament Mrs. Randa Berri, the representative of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Lama Salam, the former President Michel Suleiman, President Hussein Al Husseini, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his wife, Bishop Boulos Matar representing His Beatitude the Maronite Patriarch, and the Minister of National Defense Samir Mokbel, the Minister of Information Ramzi Greige , Papal Nuncio Gabrielli Kacha, the Ambassador of the European Union Christina Lassen, the members of Parliament: Robert Ghanem, Abdel-Latif Zein and Jean Ogassapian, the President of the Lebanese Higher Judicial Council, judge Jean Fahd, the head of State Shoura Council, judge Shukri Sader, ex-ministers: Raymond Audi, Mona Ofeish, Nicolas Sehnaoui, Ibrahim Najjar, Leila Solh Hamadeh, Walid Daouk and Khalil Hraoui , along wuith and MPs Solange Gemayel and Salah Honein, the head of the Union of Editors Elias Aoun  a representative of the General Director of the Internal Security Forces, Major General Ibrahim Basbous and a large crowd of political, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, educational and media personalities, in addition of course to the family and friends of the honored Professor Father Salim Daccache.

After the national anthem, performed by the Antonine University Choir, led by Father Toufic Maatouk, journalists Bassam Barak and Lina Doughan presented a beautiful artistic intervention entitled: "Greetings from the President, to the President," which included extracts from the letters of the late President adapted in a distinctive literary and creative way.

Then, Judge Abbas Halabi took the floor, praising Father Daccache and said:
"He is a man who’s not afraid of difficulties and challenges, a Knight full of energy and productivity. He is the holder of a noble cause, an example of commitment and he applies high standards on himself before asking others to do so. He is passionate about the university and has a strong will to continue, survive and progress just as his country struggles everyday to preserve its freedom and independence and democracy. 
And as his homeland overcame adversity and triumphed, he also prevailed through his will and determination to preserve his country’s message. 
Someone with such a thriving national curriculum and such a distinguished career and such a successful path merits this well-deserved award, which carries the name of the president, who led this country and transformed it from small states into one solid state and who unified the nation. A President who reclaimed the correct sense of politics which is about managing the public good, just as it should be according to the laws of politics and in light of the teachings of the church. 
Indeed, Father Salim Daccache truly deserves the President Elias Hraoui Award, which is given to those who preserve the National Pact and who live committed to it."
In his turn, Dr. Daoud Sayegh said:
"It was his destiny to stand early on the high outskirts. He was graced and blessed in that city built on a mountain, which guided him to excellence."
He added: "From his early formative years, from Bouar , his home, to Ghazir where he got  his education and then to Beirut, was his open journey towards building unconventional ideas, which captivated this young student. 
Saint Joseph University has always and continues to be a pioneer in reform and renewal, throughout its long history and the vast track record of the Jesuits Fathers who enriched civilization and diversified their contributions, not only through what was left in the fields of ideology, philosophy and science of all kinds, but also through their presence in the various communities. "

Just like the founding fathers, Father Salim Daccache is ready, and how can’t he be ready, having been a graduated of the Jesuit and Lebanese “schools”. He was naturally open on the Arab and Islamic worlds, and on the entrenchment of the Christian presence between them. Thus he realized that the Oriental Christian and the Lebanese Christian in particular, face a reality and several concerns that are different from what the Christians of the West face, as he is deeply rooted in his land and in this region. "
He concluded by saying: “A long time ago, it was referred to the knowledgeable as a Maronite.  What more can we say when this Maronite is also a Jesuit?

We recall all this today on the tenth commemoration of the President Elias Hraoui, who took the lead in getting Lebanon back together, after all the devastation of the war. He did all that based on the Lebanese pillars, armed with wisdom and great patience, and with the strength of the people who are attached to their homeland. That is now the legacy being carried by Mrs. Mouna Hraoui. A tribute to his memory and a tribute to the woman of utmost loyalty, hoping that she will always be able to show the other face of Lebanon, through awarding the bright faces who honor and reflect Lebanon’s authenticity, continuity and determination. "

Dr. Sayegh’s speech was followed by a wonderful music interlude by the Antonine University choir, led by Father Toufic Maatouk that ended on “the Farewell anthem", inspired by the farewell speech delivered by President Hraoui upon leaving the presidential palace. The speech was adapted into an anthem by the journalist Bassam Barak, while Father Fadi Tawk handled the music composition, and the choir performed it in an impressive and unique way.

Then, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui took the floor and declared:
“Today we celebrate the tenth year of President Elias Hraoui’s award. 
Only this year, by going to Rev. Father Pr. Salim Daccache, St. Joseph University Rector, the award takes even bigger dimensions, since it is addressed, through the Lebanese Charter and the founding values of Lebanon, to the new Lebanese generation and its education, while forging the memory of this generation and reinforcing its commitment.

Lebanon is the result of blessed efforts of many Lebanese pioneers; efforts spread by great institutions like the prestigious Saint Joseph University of which Father Daccache is the President.

The famous journalist, Georges Naccache, said about USJ 66 years ago in L'Orient (30.04.1950): "it would be almost impossible to imagine what could have been the other face of our destiny. (...) Without this house that carried our intellectual and national renaissance."

Dear friends:
Rev. Father Pr. Salim Daccache is a strong heir to generations of educators and pioneers who have dedicated their lives and their institutions for centuries, to "build the human", the essential basis for any structure, whether in Lebanon as in the Arab world.

Today, for the tenth anniversary of the absence of President Hraoui, and while presenting his annual award, it is essential that we find again the values of the Republic, and that we honor those who have adopted these values, and have defended them in words and in deeds, while guiding new generations to adopt them.

She concluded before handing over the award to Father Daccache, saying:
Rev. Father Daccache,
In the name of this loyalty that exists in your heart and your conscience and translated in your education and your national work, we present to you the President Hraoui’s Award, in its tenth edition, not only to honor your person, but also the values that you spread around you, values that are the basis of the creation of this award.

After receiving the award, Father Daccache said:
“This award has both moral and material connotations. It is a tribute from His Excellency, the President of a Republic that fought and still fights for the lives of its children; I see a warm tribute to those who have devoted their soul, their mind, their heart and all their skills for decades to construct the buildings of the school and university education Lebanon in the mid-nineteenth century, by their faith in it and its implications. I also see an insistence to keep the flame of education and teaching in my country lit ".

He added: " And I think, from what I've recently read in the words of President Hraoui that education in Lebanon has four missions and objectives: excellence and quality, commitment to the Pact, real faith in the State and the struggle for participation and democracy.

I would say firstly that education and teaching in Lebanon are either based on excellence and quality, or they shouldn’t exist, even if we fight for other causes like the right of everyone to acquire knowledge and access education, and this is what several private institutions are doing, including our university, which is in fact a national duty. (...)

And secondly, I say there is no real education in my country but one that believes in the National Pact, one that brings together the Lebanese in a real sense of partnership and justice, an education and educators that build solid bridges at any suitable time so that future generations meet, and that prohibit the construction of fences that prevent man from meeting his neighbor.

The education of the Pact forbids the misuse of politics in confessions and sectarianism, and stands against its manipulation, so that corruption and sectarianism are not the causes but the consequences of the corrupt behavior of fanatical people.
The National Pact is not an occasional political choice between us, but it is rather our collective recognition that living together is our fate, and that we only accept to live together in a unifying national future and under a constitution that organizes our common political life.

He continued: " Lebanon and democracy are like twins, and continuous education is to democracy one of its missions. (…)

Freedom is only a concept and therefore, what is most important is that we are free in our choices and that when we practice democracy; we exercise our freedom in our thinking and our decision. Thus, the limits of my freedom is the freedom of others and their opinion, it is therefore no question that threats and intimidation are no means to gain power and sovereignty.

Before he concluded: " This award, named after a president who believed in education, in the National Pact, in the state and in democracy, is an honor, yes, but also a responsibility and a duty to continue the path, that of all Lebanese in Lebanon resident and diaspora, in order to attain the values of faith, justice, dialogue, solidarity and commitment to the laws. It is an invitation to continue the struggle, unity and solidarity for Lebanon of science, culture, enlightenment and initiative for good, Lebanon's elite, Example and Don... "

At the end of the ceremony, the audience moved to the reception hall where they had a toast for Rev. Father Daccache and celebrated by cutting the traditional cake.

Eleventh Memorial
Year 2017
On the eleventh anniversary of President Elias Hraoui’s passing, a ceremony was held at the Late President’s residence in Yarze and the 2017 award was granted to the Lebanese creativity ambassador to the world, Abdul Halim Caracalla. 

The ceremony was attended by former President General Michel Sleiman, HE Mrs. Bahia Hariri representing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Former Speaker of the Parliament Hussein Husseini, Former Prime Ministers Tamam Salam and his wife, Fouad Sanioura and his wife, the Minister of Women’s Affairs Jean Ogassapian, in addition to their Excellencies former ministers:  Leila El Solh Hamade, Boutros Harb, Robert Ghanem, Emile Rahme, Assem Qanso, Hassan Rifai, Adnan Qassar, Jean Obeid and Khalil Hraoui. The event was also attended by Apostolic Nuncia Gabriele Caccia, the Ambassador of Egypt Nazih Al-Najari, the British Ambassador Hugo Shorter, HE Mr. Walid Al-Bukhari representing the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, HE Mr. Zhonglin Chen from the Embassy of the Republic of China, Ambassador Antoine Chedid, in addition to many people from the art and media sectors, as well as family members and friends of Mr. Abdel Halim Caracalla.  

For this occasion, Poet Talal Haidar took the floor and stated in his welcome speech: “Abdel Halim Caracalla comes from a legion of genius personalities that Lebanon witnessed along its history. Throughout his creative life path, he considered himself writing his glory in the art history, and did not know that he was adding to Lebanon’s glory in cultural history. He looked at the apex of the Baalbek temple’s pillars and the Baalbek temple’s pillars looked back at his glory, while he was taking the stairs of its amphitheater heading upward to the light.” 

In his speech, Former Minister Jean Obeid said: “Mrs. Mouna is not just accepted by those who love her; they also show her gratitude, because she shares their sorrows before their happiness.”
He then continued his speech saying: “Abdel Halim, God bestowed on you a great fate and made your name associated with dreaming. He granted you a life full of talent, and you went on, with all God’s blessings, and all your capacities and inimitability, with a great deal of lightness, precision and pride appreciated by all of us.”

In her speech, Mrs. El Solh thanked Abdel Halim Caracalla saying: “Since you asked for my testimony when honoring you, you are really worth it. Our dear Mrs. Mouna invited us to the home of Late President Hraoui, who worked hard to help the country rise. I still remember, when the statue of Riad El Solh was returned to the square where it belongs, and when the late President called upon Lebanese People for solidarity from the Riad El Solh Square, as if he predicted that this square will become the place of gathering of all those who are claiming their rights.”
Speaking to Caracalla, she said: “I was brought up in the Solh family street in Baalbek, was related to Zahle by marriage and lived in Baalbek under its sun. They refer to you as the ninth column in the Baalbek temple. In fact, you made it shine internationally and thanks to your creative role, you safeguarded the Bekaa valley folklore.”

For her part, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui declared that “since the award was launched eleven years ago, it has been looking at every work that goes along with its principle, based on which it was created, celebrating those who are working to consolidate the national pact and enhance the bases of the Lebanese entity.”
She added saying that “by bestowing this award to Abdel Halim Caracalla, we would have pleased President Hraoui twice, in his presence and absence. In his presence, because throughout his life, he really acknowledged Caracalla’s art and loved his work. He was fond of the genius mind of this creative author from Lebanon, and in his absence because today’s award brings back President Hraoui from his absence, by being granted to whomever he had considered, when alive, as worthy of the highest honors in the name of Lebanon.”

To conclude, Caracalla gave a speech saying: “Your words are the cloak of my pride, and a medal of deep esteem that I am enamored of. Today more than any other day in the past, I feel a greater determination and a big responsibility that push me to continue adding up art achievements that reverberate Lebanon’s good reputation, and rising up its name in a prominent place on the high-quality art map in worldwide theaters.”

Finally, just before the end of the celebration, a documentary was broadcasted with glimpses of the plays organized by the honoree in the Baalbek amphitheater and several theaters worldwide. A cake was cut for this occasion while all shared a toast with memorial photos of souvenir. 

Twelfth Memorial
Year 2018
The President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee, on the twelfth anniversary of President’s Passing granted its annual award to “Offre Joie”  represented by its’ president Melhem Khalaf and volunteers of this association, in a ceremony at the President’s residence in Yarze, on July 17th, 2018.

The ceremony was attended by Dr. Ghattas Khoury representing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Mrs. Randa Berri representing Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, President Michel Sleiman and his wife Mrs. Wafa, Former Prime Minister Tamam Salam and his wife Mrs. Lama, Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Me Emile Geagea representing Minister of Information Melhem Riachi, MP Bahia Hariri, Former Ministers Bahige Tabbara, Roni Araiji, and Chakib Qortbaoui, Head of the Press Federation Aouni Al-Kaaki, Head of the Journalists’ Union Elias Aoun, Major General Abbas Ibrahim represented by Colonel Elie Al-Dik, General Director of the Lebanese General Security, Major General Imad Othman represented by Colonel Yasser Daher, General Director of the Internal Security Forces, Major General Tony Saliba represented by Colonel Pierre Barrak, General Director of State Security, and a large crowd of religious, diplomatic, and social figures, as well as media personalities and friends.

After the national anthem and Mrs. Mouna Hraoui’s greetings to the crowd, Former Minister Rachid Derbas opened the ceremony with a speech and said: “In your names, I allow myself to address my speech to President Elias Hraoui, being a witness of his courage and faith in the State and the Nation, as well as his wisdom, know-how, and capacity to move between mines, and his political skills the main components to build the state that was divided among leaders of war confessions”.

He also addressed “Mrs. Mouna Hraoui, known for her unending liveliness”, adding that “Offre Joie, with its’ members, activities, and name that counter the insatiable greed for possession and acquisition, is not a reaction, but rather a true action meant to counter dirty acts, the dirtiest of which being currently political”.

He ended his speech by saying: “This repeated and ongoing event reminds us that all commemorators are linked together by one thread that pushes them to seed despite bad weather conditions, plant despite saline earth, be honest in a land of lies, and show optimism in the face of bad omens. I wonder if those people are not blood related to the will, spirit, and perseverance of Elias Hraoui... I salute “Offre Joie”, and I salute the mother of this joy”.

The talented actor Georges Khabbaz then read a poetry for the occasion, and male and female volunteers shared live testimonies about their experience with Offre Joie.

Later on, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui took the floor and said: “First of all, I will read a paragraph from the chapter about “Giving” in the Prophet by Gebran Khalil Gebran: “Then said a rich man, speak to us of Giving. And he answered: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. [...] It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; and to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.”  

She went on saying: “While reading these words to you, I feel they cannot apply to a pure and devoted heart and soul more than they do to our honored awardee today. I am saying that while also being afraid to hurt his noble sense of humility. In fact, the day I informed him that the Award Committee unanimously chose him to receive the award for this year, he was about to refuse it, unless one condition is fulfilled: not to grant it to him personally, but to the community of “Offre Joie” as a whole. We are proud and happy that this man alone represents a whole community”.

She continued saying: “During our periodic deliberations to yearly choose the person deserving the award, we abide by the same principle: to grant the award to the person whose qualifications and features match the core idea of the award, which goes to whomever works on preserving the National Pact; and what better way to preserve the National Pact than to take initiatives, neither as an answer to a request, nor as a reply to a question but call on noble and pure friends just like himself, walk by their side, support and help them to carve the joy of giving deep in the Nation’s conscience. Whenever there is a street destroyed by an explosion, a house that needs reparation, and school walls that have decayed with time, you would see Melhem and his friends, who are all part of a dynamic, active, and productive workshop working and achieving in silence, then leaving in silence, leaving behind the purest and noblest meanings of the Joy of Giving.

Hraoui ended her speech saying: “For this reason, and for many others, the Elias Hraoui Award Committee is pleased to grant this year’s award in a unique way to “Offre Joie”, to each and every one of Melhem Khalaf’s friends, who surely feel that the award has reached each and every one of them when it was received on the behalf of them all, and on the behalf of each and every one of them, by the exemplary citizen, the Lawyer Dr. Melhem Khalaf. Congratulations to Offre Joie for this award”.

After Mrs. Mouna Hraoui granted President Elias Hraoui’s Award to the head of the honored NGO, Dr. Melhem Khalaf gave a thank you and appreciation speech, then photos were taken in souvenir of this commemoration, and attendees raised a toast for the occasion.

Thirteenth Memorial
Year 2019
On the occasion of the thirteenth anniversary of his passing, the President Elias Hraoui Commemoration Committee, granted its annual award to Mrs. Mirna Bustani, head of the committee of Al Bustan International Festival of Music and the Performing Arts. The ceremony was held at the President’s residence in Yarze, on September 24th, 2019.

The ceremony was attended by the award recipient and her family, as well as by Mrs. Randa Berri (representing Speaker Nabih Berri) MP Bahia Hariri (representing Prime Minister Sheikh Saad Hariri), Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ghassan Hasbani, as well as former prime ministers: Hussein El Husseini, Fouad Siniora, Tammam Salam and his spouse Lama, Minister of Culture Mohamad Daoud, Italian Ambassador Massimo Marotti, Belgian Ambassador Hubert Coorman, British Ambassador Chris Rampling, Mrs. Solange Bachir Gemayel, in addition to former ministers: Hassan Rifai, Boutros Harb, Marwan Hamadeh, Khaled Kabbani, Georges Skaff, Raymond Araiji, Tarek Mitri, Khalil Hraoui, Nicolas Nahas, Naji Boustany, former MP Henri Helou, Mrs. Noura Jumblat, Army leader’s spouse Mrs. Nehmat Aoun, USJ Rector Fr. Salim Daccache, AUB President Joseph Jabbra, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Metropolitan Niphon Saikali, ambassadors Riad Tabbara and Samir Chamma,  Baabda- Louaize Mayor Antoine Helou, Zahle Mayor Assaad Zgheib, Fr. Toufic Maatouk, as well as friends and family of the late President Hraoui. 

After the national anthem, the poet Henri Zgheib opened the ceremony with a speech, describing Mrs. Mirna Bustani as “the lady of the golden age”. He was followed by H.E. Tammam Salam who paid tribute to Mrs. Mouna Hraoui and the Commemoration Committee. “This is a glorious tribute to the soul of the late President in whose house we are gathered today. He was at the helm of the country at a very difficult time and lead it from destruction, disparity, and separation, to an era of peace, unity, and construction”. He also praised the great writer and scholar Boutros Boustany, as well as the businessman Emile Boustany. He then addressed Mrs. Mirna Bustani by saying: “I hope our country is back to being the homeland that you and we love, a country of pure music without disharmony, a country with theaters full of people chanting hymns of hope and happiness”. 

Subsequently, Mrs. Mouna Hraoui took the floor and said: “I would like to welcome you all to the late President’s residence to celebrate an exceptional and glorious lady. What could I possibly say about a woman who’s achievements speak louder than words? She is of course a very dear friend but more importantly, she is an extremely dynamic lady who’s elegance and class are only matched by her inner beauty. It therefore gives me great pleasure that the Commemoration committee elected to grant this year’s award to the one we so appropriately deemed “the lady of the golden era”. Since very early on in life, she was destined to be a leader and a pioneer. Indeed, she was the first woman elected to parliament, and inherited the seat of a great man who’s life was cut short by tragedy. She had very big shoes to fill and successfully rose to the challenge by embarking on the path he had set for her. After her term at the parliament, she continued presiding over her father’s boards of directors while expanding his empire. Needless to say this required tremendous efforts and cost her many sleepless nights, but she was successful in keeping Emile Boustany’s memory alive. I was later a witness of her establishment of the Al Bustan Festival and the great influence it has since achieved. In addition, we worked side by side at the National Heritage Foundation, and I came to value her as knowledgeable and perceptive colleague, who had a great vision for the revival of our heritage. And still today, I am by her side witnessing her creative mind at work in her ambitious endeavors.

In her acceptance speech, Mrs. Bustani thanked those who took part in the commemoration ceremony. Among other things, speaking of Mrs. Hraoui she said: “I got to know this lady who was, and still is an unwavering crusader, taking charge of all matters, big or small. It is difficult for me to explain to you how great this woman is”. 

To conclude, Mrs. Hraoui handed the award to the winner, reasserting how proud she was to have Mrs. Bustani present at her second home. After that, photos were taken to commemorate the event, a cake was cut, and attendees raised their glasses for a toast.

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