Event sponsored by southern California based non-profit honors the work of JFK and Daisaku Ikeda.

by Ian McIlraith
SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE

SANTA ANA, Calif., July 28— It was a celebration of peace, justice and diversity, honoring the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s centennial anniversary.

SGI-USA representatives with Dr. Ana Nogales (second from left), founder of the nonprofit organization Casa de la Familia.

The event was sponsored by the Southern California nonprofit organization Casa de la Familia on July 28 at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California.

The 250 leaders and members of the Orange County community included SGI-USA representatives and keynote speaker Gregorio Luke, an expert on Mexican and Latin American art and culture.

The evening program commenced with participants chanting Nam-myoho-rengekyo three times, led by SGI-USA Vice President Renu Debozi. In opening remarks, she shared a brief history of SGI President Ikeda’s scheduled but ultimately unfulfilled meeting with President Kennedy (slated for February 1963) and the subsequent dialogue he held with his youngest brother, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1978 in Tokyo. During their meeting, they spoke about the life and legacy of the late president and the future of humanity.

“Come to think of it, all of us here are representatives of the dialogue that should have taken place in 1963,” Mrs. Debozi said. “Perhaps, we can say that, tonight, their meeting has finally been fulfilled. Now, let us walk in the footsteps of these two lionhearted men, and serve as protagonists of a new century, working side by side to create a just world, a humane world—a world that respects the dignity of all people.”

In an awards presentation that followed, Casa de la Familia issued President Ikeda and three other honorees the JFK Award for Excellence in Social Justice for providing “a significant contribution to the nation and to our society that reflects the tapestry of diversity in America promoting solidarity and justice.” Local SGI-USA representatives accepted the honor on the SGI president’s behalf.

Former U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who presented the award, praised President Ikeda’s dedication to promoting peace, culture and education while focusing on the dignity and infinite worth of every person.