OTD: July 4, 1776 – July 4, 2019
Dear Citizens of Mount Vernon, New York,
My Fellow Americans,
I hope you all enjoyed reading our post MDFDE/USA: ‘MERCI’ MOUNT VERNON, N.Y.! Once Upon a Time… The Mount Vernon-Thionville Connection #MDFDEFriendshipMerciTrain70, dedicated to the commemoration of the 70-year relationship between Mount Vernon N.Y. and Thionville, France, this past May. A friendship made possible by the active participation of your city in the Friendship Train campaign in 1947; Mount Vernon’s adoption of Thionville, France, as a sister city via Operation Democracy in 1948; and the Thionville “Merci Train” gifts sent to Mount Vernon N.Y. in 1949. A renewed homage of gratitude to Mount Vernon complimenting our French-American-Italian project #MDFDEFriendshipMerciTrain70 celebrating the official 70th Anniversary of the “Merci Train” this year, ahead of our #MDFDEFriendshipMerciTrain75 for the Friendship Train’s 75th Anniversary in 2022…
As today marks the 243th Anniversary of our Independence, our hard-earned rights to live in a free society that inspired millions and millions of immigrants to reach our shores looking for a bettter “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” so famously coined in our Declaration of Independence by one of our Enlightened Founding Fathers, Thomas JEFFERSON.
More determined than ever to get our country back on tracks… To fulfill the American dream and ideals set by our Father, Gen. George WASHINGTON, with the heroic Marquis de LAFAYETTE and the French Royal Navy fighting by his side to win the American Revolution…
What better way to be motivated than by reflecting on how, more than a century after their foundation, two of Mount Vernon’s oldest and most popular institutions — the Mount Vernon Public Library (1904) and the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon (1912) — pillars of Mount Vernon community, are continuing to improve the lives of many Mount Vernon’s youngsters. How these two organizations, following the footsteps of our forefathers and the wisdom of their elders who contributed so heartily to the Friendship Train, are helping young girls and boys growing up in Mount Vernon today by teaching them first about their responsability of helping others in order to become successful leaders someday…
Once Upon A Time in Mount Vernon, New York…
“You never know what’s really impactful. You never know where the world is gonna take you — the impact that they’re gonna have on your life. This lady (Miss Connie) had a profound impact on my life and here I am. It’s about paying it forward and being kind.”
Case in point: Two-time Academy Awards winner, Denzel WASHINGTON, a multi-talented actor-director-producer and humanitarian, born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, who just last month, on June 7, 2019 — 58 years to the day (June 7, 1961) after President John F. Kennedy was named Big Brother of the Year by Drew PEARSON (see story below) — has been honored by his peers with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award…. .
As Denzel Washington likes to point out in interviews, growing up in Mount Vernon was not always an easy thing for him. Many of his friends, who got in trouble, ended up serving time…
Luckily for young Denzel, “Miss Connie” MAURO, his wonderful childhood librarian who worked at Mount Vernon Public Library for 50 years, was always there for him, playing a pivotal role in his education early on — from age seven — when he first got his library card.
See Denzel Washington helps childhood librarian celebrate her 99th birthday
And then, of couse, there was The Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon, home of Mount Vernon’s best and brightest young citizens, which Denzel always points out as crucial to his own development, leading to his interest in theater and movies, and his complete dedication to the cause by becoming national spokesman to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).
Denzel WASHINGTON’s lifetime connection to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is especially moving to me because of one very special person, Washington D.C. syndicated columnist, journalist and humanist Drew PEARSON, father of the Friendship Train.
Indeed, among all the civic and humanitarian causes Drew PEARSON strongly supported in his lifetime, not only was he responsible for the making and success of the Friendship Train…
As one of the founders of Big Brothers devoted to combating juvenile delinquency in America, which he served as long-time President of the Washington D.C., chapter of Big Brothers, Drew PEARSON, who led the spirit of the movement with his own concept of “One-Man-One-Boy relationship” as a means of graduating potential delinquent boys into responsible citizenship, using his miraculous gift for communicating the force of his own dreams to others to the end, was quietly able to lead many young people — countless little brothers helped by bigger brothers– out of the shadow into the sunlight.
And so as we reflect on the rich history of our country this 4th of July, I hope each one of you will find strength and comfort in celebrating the inspiring lives of all the extraordinary, generous people including our teachers, librarians, writers, journalists, actors and movie directors, who genuinely make America so great in all our diverse communities and abroad! All aboard!
With my kindest regards to you all,
The “Train de la Reconnaissance Française” aka “Merci Train” (1949).
© The Official French-American Project entirely conceived by Ms. Elisabeth JENSSEN to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Merci Train (2019-2020) and the 75th Anniversary of the Friendship Train (2022).
Chair, Elisabeth Jenssen
Honorary President: The Comte Gilbert de Pusy La Fayette
Some of the “Merci Train” gifts sent by Thionville, France, to the Mount Vernon Public Library, N.Y. in 1949. E.J. Photo © Leslie Alpert, Mount Vernon, NY Public Library. All rights reserved.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
President John F. KENNEDY’s inaugural address in Washington D.C., January 20, 1961
Accession Number: AR6626-A Title: AR6626-A. President John F. Kennedy and Others at the National Capital Big Brothers Dinner Date(s) of Materials: 7 June 1961 Photographer: Rowe, Abbie, 1905-1967
National Capital Big Brothers Dinner, June 7, 1961 9:55 PM Description: Big Brothers of the National Capital Area dinner, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. (L-R) Journalist and President of the Big Brothers of the National Capital Area Drew Pearson, Chairman of the 1961 Inaugural Committee Edward H. Foley, President John F. Kennedy, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Foley present a framed certificate proclaiming the President Big Brother of the Year. https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-AR6626-A.aspx
Remarks at a dinner of the Big Brothers of America, 7 June 1961
7 June 1961 White House Audio Collection. Sound recording of President John F. Kennedy’s remarks at a dinner for Big Brothers of America (later known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. In his speech President Kennedy commends the organization on their efforts and describes the responsibilities of an individual living in a free society.
Actor Denzel Washington receives lifetime achievement award in Hollywood
Friday, June 07, 2019 Two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington has been honored with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award, the film body’s top honor. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
Once a member of Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon, New York… Always a proud member…
Thank You, Denzel Washington! From Boys & Girls Clubs of America
“When it comes to Boys & Girls Clubs, I know what I’m talking about. Everything you’ve seen or heard about me began with lessons I learned to live by at the Club.”
Denzel Washington, national spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Related Links: https://www.bgca.org/
Boys & Girls Club a ‘lighthouse’ for Denzel Washington and other Mount Vernon youth