Casey Kasem also a voice for Lebanese Americans

Over the past few days, the media have remembered Casey Kasem as a legendary radio personality, broadcaster and voice. He was all those things, of course. But to me, and so many Lebanese Americans, he was the reason we felt so proud of our heritage.

Not many people are aware of Casey’s activism on Middle East issues. For years he was involved in various Arab-American organizations, and in 1987 became a founding member of the American Task Force for Lebanon, and his involvement in these issues remained strong until just a few years ago when his health no longer allowed it. When we hoped to purchase ambulances for the Lebanese Red Cross, Casey opened his checkbook. When we needed a high-powered master of ceremonies to help us honor then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell for his efforts in re-establishing a stable Lebanon, Casey raised his hand. Whenever we needed a voice to add a little pizzazz to a video, Casey readily went to the recording studio. And whenever I called Casey to discuss how we could remove the ban on travel to Lebanon he would always call me back promptly. The voice on the other line, with that characteristic enthusiasm, would say, “This is Casey!” Of course he never needed to say it — everyone in America recognized that voice.

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Perhaps this is what made him such a powerful role model: His sincerity matched his passion, in an era when we’ve come not to expect such generosity of spirit.

In 1997, Casey made his first trip to Lebanon with the ATFL. Like many Arab Americans, he and his brother had grown up hearing stories about their parents’ homeland but had never been there. For this trip, Casey brought along his daughter Kerri and his brother Mouner. Just prior to landing, Kerri applied makeup to her father, because when you are a star, you have to look your best for your family’s first homecoming in 66 years.

Those of us who were present still remember the long, beige coat Casey had on as he stepped onto the tarmac for his first time on Lebanese soil. Of course, the Lebanese — notoriously smitten by stars — oohed and aahed over Casey, and the journalists tripped over one another to get a word from him. The State Department ban on American travel to Lebanon had been lifted just two months earlier and our delegation was in the vanguard of Americans visiting Lebanon, a country with profound American ties. We met with every high official and were invited out for every lunch and dinner during our stay. It became apparent as we traveled through Lebanon that year that Casey was not only the host of “America’s Top 40”; he was top of the charts in Lebanon. 

For his legacy as a man of principle and a humanitarian, he will be dearly missed.

Alexandria, Va.


A conservative in favor of Common Core

From Andrew Pierson

As a conservative, I am for Common Core education provided we have a requirement that by the fourth grade, every child going to school funded by American taxpayers has a good understanding of the Declaration of Independence. They should be tested on what led up to it, where our rights come from and why we as a country made the declaration. Every child going to school (being paid for by taxpayers) shall by the eighth grade have very detailed knowledge of our Constitution. What led up to it, the Federalist Papers, what it stands for, how it limits government rights by protecting the rights of individuals. Every child should know this so well that they understand why our leaders swear under oath to protect and defend it, why so many people are willing to give their life to defend it.

It will be very interesting to see who will oppose the teaching of our country’s foundation. Which party will come out against teaching our children that their rights do not come from government — will it be the Democrats or Republicans that do not want our children to know the roles and responsibilities of the federal government, their rights and ours?

Flemington, N.J.


Chemical plants needs safer alternatives

From Sara Smith

The recent Executive Order Working Group report on chemical security is a clear sign that the Obama administration is still focused on protecting public health and safety from toxic chemical spills and accidents (“Feds Propose Chemical Safety Overhaul,” June 6). However, we had hoped for a swifter mandate to phase out dangerous chemicals such as chlorine gas in favor of safer alternatives at chemical plants across the country. 

The recommendations for safer alternatives in the report, although voluntary, can still make a positive impact at the nation’s most dangerous chemical facilities. Moving forward, we encourage the administration to move quickly to implement safer alternatives so we can avoid future disasters such as the West, Texas, explosion. 

It’s clear that our state leaders aren’t ready make any serious progress on chemical security — so until then we have to rely on the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Department of Homeland Security to stand up for Texans. 

Austin, Texas

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