Sunday, March 04, 2012

Courage and Compassion

Wolf Blitzer  Marlene and Fred Malek

Photo credit: Neshan H. Naltchayan

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was honored at The Courage and Compassion Award Dinner Held in Support of U.S. Navy SEALs at Cafe Milano.

Only glitch - he wasn't there. 

Fortunately, guests were serenaded by top Italian Tenor Vittorio Grigolo - who did make it - from Italy actually.  

Grigolo, who was nominated for a Grammy in 2008 for his work on the musical West Side Story, made his debut at The Metropolitan Opera in New York as Rodolfo in Puccini’s “Bohème” and has performed on stage at The Kennedy Center.

The Award was presented by Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, President of the Light of Healing Hope Foundation

Grigolo and friend (L) Alexandra de Borchgrave Franco Nuschesce

"I’m very happy to be here tonight to celebrate the US Navy Seals and The Navy Seals Foundation.  We are so proud of all the wonderful work that they have done for our nation," she said.

"It started with my own Life and Healing Hope Foundation and at one point I mentioned to a dear friend Jimmy Whitehead who happened to know Admiral Collin, the Chairman of the Navy Seals Foundation, that my dream was to bring comfort and healing to our brethren and especially the Navy Seals.

And he said, “I would be delighted to introduce you. We’re doing an event with them and we would love you to come and recite your poem piece at the event.”

So I did that and all these wonderful seals came up to me later and said, “We’ve loved your poem.”  And I said to Admiral Collin, “Well, it would mean so much to me if we could do an event together to bring comfort to the Seals families.

Secretary Gates become involved because again we were all talking among ourselves and decided he should be our first honoree to receive the Courage And Compassion Award. So, my husband Arnaud wrote him a letter and asked him if he would be our first honoree and he wrote back within 5 minutes and said that he would be delighted."

Former Chief of Protocol, "Lucky" Roosevelt (L)
Her husband, Arnaud de Borchgrave of Center for Strategic and International Studies, is a lifelong journalist and became involved with the Seals the first time he was in Vietnam where he maintained some duty over a 30-year period.

"I’ve been a journalist for 62 years and I’m now 85 years old," he said.

"I’ve known Bill Gates since Vietnam days. We entered the CIA at the very lowest rank possible and he worked his way all the way up to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for Secretary of Defense.  He’s a remarkable guy who is extraordinary, is accomplished, and he’s very modest, and everybody loves him."

 A look inside:

The dinner was emceed by Fox News Channel’s anchor Bret Baier and hosted by Café Milano proprietor Franco Nuschese.   

The dinner was generously sponsored by Anham, Deloitte, FedEx, Finmeccanica and The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.