(06-30-2003) Bono Honored in American Ireland Fund Magazine - AIF *

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Sep 22, 2001
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(06-30-2003) Bono Honored in Ireland Fund Magazine - AIF *

Bono in Connect Magazine

U2News received word from the The American Ireland Fund today - who have honored Bono in their twice yearly magazine, Connect, which is out now. Below is an article from the issue. For more information on the American Ireland Fund, please visit their official website: www.irlfunds.org

Bono at the Washington Gala

Saint Patrick's Day has special significance for The Ireland Funds for several reasons, excluding the obvious. March 17th 1987, the day that saw The Ireland Fund and the American Irish Foundation merge to become The American Ireland Fund, was celebrated this year with the presentation of the AIF Humanitarian Award to Bono, lead singer of U2 and one of the favorite sons of Ireland.

The National Building Museum, with its grand atrium, marble columns and vast archways, was the setting of the 11th annual National Gala Dinner with two long, green banners hanging from the ceiling reading, "Tonight?We'll build a bridge Across the sea and land." Just as the AIF builds a bridge between the United States and Ireland, Bono builds a bridge between both sides of Washington's political divide. This was evidenced by those in attendance, which included powerful members from both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as Nobel Laureates John Hume and David Trimble, Bush Administration officials, members of the diplomatic community, industry leaders, and celebrities from the arts and media.


Chairman of the AIF, Loretta Brennan Glucksman introduced Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, the 2002 AIF recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award. Thompson, Chairman of the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, got in touch with his inner rock-star as he donned the infamous shades and gave a humorous and poignant introduction to the illustrious honoree. To loud applause and cheering Bono took the stage.

"Good news from Dublin: The potato famine is over. You can come home." Bono went on to joke with Secretary Thompson, a most unlikely fan. "People think it's an odd look; a rockstar hanging out with politicians, but to be fair, it's uncool for both of us."

"I do have to have to accept that some people don't think that art and politics should mix, but you are the last people I have to explain myself to because you're friends of Ireland. You know that Ireland was dreamt up by mad poets, painters, playwrights, and drunken priests," he told the heavily Irish-ancestral crowd.

"I've got a lot of thanks to say tonight, I want to thank Kingsley, Loretta, Tony O'Reilly for this great organization and the work they do, especially because tonight it's for the Special Olympics, " said Bono. Recognition was given to the AIF for the substantial support of its flagship project for 2003, the Special Olympics, taking place in Ireland June 16th through 29th. It will be the first time the event takes place outside the United States, it is the largest sporting event ever to take place in Ireland and the largest in the world this year. More than 7,000 athletes representing 160 countries will participate. One of those present was athlete Rita Lawlor.

Rita gave a moving speech after which she gave Bono a warm hug. Following their hug, Bono asked Rita for her autograph. Rita obliged, asking him, "How do you spell your name?" When Rita handed Bono the signed paper, he waved it to the crowd and exclaimed, "Got it!"

Bono was recognized for his efforts to encourage debt cancellation, increased aid and trade incentives for Africa's impoverished nations through the DATA, a new non-profit organization created by Bono, George Soros, Bill & Melinda Gates, Jeff Scott and fellow compatriot Sir Bob Geldof, that aims to raise awareness about the crisis of unpayable debts, the urgent need for more and better development assistance, especially to fight AIDS, and the unfair trade rules that keep Africa poor. DATA works to bring politicians, celebrities and civic activists together as campaigners to strengthen public support for U.S. leadership in helping Africans build a better future.

Bono's activism was first apparent in a now legendary and moving performance at 1984's LiveAid concert, organized by Bob Geldof. The following year he and his wife Ali spent a month volunteering in Ethiopia and the experience in Ethiopia changed his life.

"On the last day, a man handed me his baby and he begged me to take him back to Ireland because there he was going to live, while in Ethiopia, his son would surely die," said Bono. "In that moment I started this journey. And In that moment I became that most awful thing - a rock star who wanted to change the world."

"It keeps him off the streets," U2's guitarist, the Edge, says of Bono's cause-related quests, "and it's where his heart is.

Bono has been lobbying world leaders for the past several years to invest in the Africa; the African people and continent.

"I keep coming back in Washington to argue, cajole, glad-hand, tickle and occasionally rock the house," said 'The Pest', a nickname he earned from the Bush Administration for his diligent efforts.

Bono spoke of his inexperience when he first came to Washington and gratitude for the assistance of some experienced teachers. Bobby Shriver, respected political activist and son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, befriended the singer when he joined the Jubilee 2000 Drop the Debt campaign. "Bobby Shriver taught me that this city, DC, is all about one thing - the check," Bono said.

"The Drop the Debt campaign has been very successful, and it taught me a lot about how this town worked and how it didn't. I thought the President of the United States was the most powerful person in the country. When Bill Clinton promised to cancel 100% of the debt owed to America by 23 countries, I was punching the air. Then I found out it's the Congress," Bono laughed with the room full of members of Congress.

"That's why I accept these awards," he went on. "When you get the Congress in the room you can get it done."

Later in his speech Bono told the audience, "I don't have a lot of bodyguards with I'm on the road on tour with U2. I don't need it. But I have some great ones in D.C." Bono was moved by how these representatives have put aside partisanship for the greater good. He went on to thank several members of congress specifically, Democrats and Republicans equally, for their frankness and assistance on this crusade including Rep. John Kasich, Sen. Pat Leahy "the real Saint Patrick," Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and particularly Sen. Orrin Hatch.

"What an amazing man. Easiest meeting I ever had. We talked about debt cancellation for 30 minutes. He said, 'Yep, I get it.' " Bono said.

Introduced to Bono by mutual friend Bobby Shriver, Senator Hatch spoke of the exceptional qualities of the Irishman. "The first minute I met him, I recognized that this is a very exceptional man, a very bright man, a very dedicated man, a very socially conscious man, somebody who makes a difference, who's is going to make a difference."

The American Ireland Fund was proud to present Bono with the 2003 International Humanitarian Award. We think he's made a difference too.

This article first appeared in Connect -Summer 2003 issue
Bringing a bit of PLEBA into the news forum...

:ohmy: :drool: :faint:

Look at that picture!!!


I must find a copy of this magazine.
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