Aoun and Bassil: Figures of HOPE

How the Lebanese American Youth see Aoun and Bassil: “Figures of HOPE”

 

My whole life, I have known Lebanon as my second home, going to visit family, live my culture, and explore the beautiful country and all it has to offer. What made Lebanon all of this was the people, who I have discovered to be some of the smartest and most resilient of populations. Growing up, I had heard all about how Lebanon came to be and there was always one name included, General Michel Aoun. Now, all I knew about the man throughout my youth was that he was once an army general, my parents loved him, and we had the same last name. What I did not know was all that Aoun did to make Lebanon the independent country that I love so much, all with extraordinary character, strength, and love for his country. When I joined the LACD youth group, I did not know how much I would benefit. I figured this was just a way for our parents, who are members of the LACD, to gather numbers within the organization. What I didn't know was the individual growth and connections that lied ahead with the LACD. It was our love for Lebanon that brought us together, seeing as we all yearned to connect with our roots, and President Micheal Aoun and President of Tayyar Gebran Bassil were exemplary figures to follow on such a journey.

My mom tells me about the times where she would go study in tents during school, just to hear what the great Michel Aoun had to say and to participate in his cause. She describes thousands of Lebanese people, from all ages, religions, economic classes, and parts of the country, flooding the streets to gather in support of GMA and his rejection of the Taif agreement. For me, it all started to come together during the 2019 LACD Youth Camp, where we learned the facts of what transpired in Lebanon and how Michel Aoun approached the invaders to win his country back for his people. For him, it was not about ending the war, it was about winning it. Though to many, the Taif agreement was the smartest option for ending the war with Syria, Aoun made the point that there was no specification as to when Syria would pull out of Lebanon. Though he was violently attacked for his dissenting opinion and seen as a threat, in the end, the general fought for what the people wanted. For this, the noble leader was sent into exile in France for what was supposed to be five years but ended up being fifteen. He was feared because he is a strong leader, with an even stronger influence on the Lebanese people, but in reality, he was to be honored and followed. Eventually, with the help of the American congress, Aoun returned to his beloved home with no hesitation to pick up where he left off. His followers were there to welcome and embrace him in growing numbers, and from this came what we know as Tayyar today. A group with fight, compassion, brains, and composure, but most of all a love for Lebanon and all Lebanese people. In 2016, the accomplished general finally rose as the president of this now independent republic and brought in Gebran Bassil to take his place as leader of the now established Free Patriotic Movement.

The Free Patriotic Movement continues to gather Lebanese from all around the world to fight for and support their beloved motherland in all aspects under the guidance of yet another strong man, Gebran Bassil. Even within the community, Bassil was a controversial choice to be President of Tayyar, but he was obviously a good one. He came in with big shoes to fill, and he continues to assert himself even as people consistently tear him down. Bassil does not only represent the Lebanese living in Lebanon, but he has reached the Lebanese diaspora in ways like never before. With conventions like LDE, Lebanese Diaspora Energy, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bassil gathered the success from the widespread Lebanese Diaspora to enrich the community along with working to make improvements in Lebanon. He has not only taken special interest in the Lebanese Diaspora, but furthermore, he acknowledges the importance of the youth. Having personally attended the convention, what stood out to me was the youths' attendance being given as much importance as the successful doctors, businessmen and women, and economists who were there. He truly has put his faith into the youth, working to introduce and educate what is ultimately the future. In addition, this summer, through the LACD, another member of the youth group and I had the unique opportunity to join a political program headed by Bassil, known as the Political Tourism Program. These two weeks in Lebanon were honestly life changing, seeing as it allowed me to explore Lebanon as a country through a political and economic perspective rather than just a social one. I was exposed to all different kinds of people, ideologies, religions, systems and places, things that no ordinary visitor or even a citizen would have access to. We even got to meet and hear from the highly held Aoun and Bassil, a truly special opportunity I never thought I would have. This trip only increased my attachment to Lebanon and pushed me to do my part as a Lebanese-American citizen, through continuing to educate myself and be an active member of the LACD.

In a country that has been deeply rooted in political corruption, Aoun and Bassil have become figures of hope. I have learned that they are strong leaders, who assert their moral values in acting for the people and by the people. LACD and the experiences it has led me to, have helped me define and grow into my identity as a young Lebanese American. It gave me an amazing Lebanese community, friends and role models, knowledge and resources, and memorable experiences that I am forever grateful for. It has shown me that I can help Lebanon in so many ways, and for everything that has been happening, there are people who are working for the best. Knowing that there are so many who admire these two leaders, their values, ethics, and the agenda the FPM has for Lebanon, I am assured that there is hope for the Lebanese people.  I leave every meeting, event, trip, fundraiser, convention, and project even more proud to be Lebanese, and a part of the LACD. I hope to continue and grow my support and part in the LACD, giving back to them as much as they have given to me.

 

Iman Aoun

LACD Youth Committee

 

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