The Greatest Dinner Event Ever!
142nd Anniversary Lincoln Dinner
Sunday, March 19, 2017 at Antun’s of Queens Village
After the allegedly “crippling snow” of the last few days, the weather was lovely on Sunday March 19th, for the 142nd Anniversary Lincoln Dinner, with bright sunshine, clear blue skies and temperatures in the upper 40s. The stage was set for our most joyful and exhilarating event. “The greatest dinner event ever,” was the way one of the guests described it. It was an event that bolstered the morale and pride of every guest in the grand ballroom at Antun’s, which numbered well over 300, which broke all previous historical records of our club’s annual gala dinner parties.
The dinner guests were all imbued with the pride to be part of the Republican Party in the new era, to Make America Great Again with our President Donald Trump. It was a renewed sense of pride that was imparted by the courageous examples of our honorees and speakers – the duty to put “people and principles over politics” which turned out to be the prevailing theme of the event. There was also the central theme of Republican unity, that we are all part of one glorious Republican family united under the American flag, in the service of our city, state and nation, that would make the father of our Party, Abraham Lincoln proud. There was also the profound impression from the honorees, of people who work tirelessly for their communities and in the service of their fellow countrymen. According to one dinner guest, “there’s an afterglow that will last for weeks.”
The 2017 Lincoln Day Anniversary Dinner officially began with the presentation of our Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance by the Francis Lewis High School JROTC Honor Guard, commanded by Command Sergeant Major Charles Cabrera. The National Anthem was magnificently performed by Preethi Sridhar, daughter of Sridhar Munirathnam, owner of Southern Spice, rated Newsday’s top Asian restaurant on Long Island.
The tone of the event was set by the Invocation led by Rabbi Menashe Bovit of the Bellerose Jewish Center, who is also President of Northeast Queens Interfaith Council. The Rabbi’s opening prayer was a song from his mentor, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, “L’man achai v’rayi / For All of My Brothers, Sisters and Friends,” to celebrate our unique diversity as Americans, a coming together of brothers, sisters and friends uniting together under our American flag.
President Orenstein welcomed all to the annual gala dinner party of the Queens Village Republican Club, the oldest and most active Republican Club in America, as we can boast by the magnitude of this momentous event, that perhaps no other club in America has equaled. We celebrate the father of our Republican Party, President Abraham Lincoln and we celebrate the great victory of our President, Donald Trump in the new era to Make America Great Again!
The emcee, John Burnett, political strategist and TV and media commentator who grew up in Queens Village, kicked off the awards ceremonies and introduced a representative of Congressman Lee Zeldin, Jamie Hechtman-Ulloa, who brought congressional certificates for each honoree. She complimented this “great room of diverse deplorables,” and elaborated on the theme of Republican unity quoting Lincoln who said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We all need to work toward unity and a nation of freedom. We can either be divided and enslaved by socialism or celebrate our differences in unity. We choose the later.
James Trent, founder and President of the Queens County Farm Museum, Chairman of the Board of the Queens Village Republican Club as well as the Lincoln Dinner Chair, was introduced as the presenter of the “Harvey E. Moder Lifetime Achievement Award” to Robert Holden, President of the Juniper Park Civic Association. Trent extolled the overall excellence and civic activism of the borough of Queens reminding all that Queens hosted two World’s Fairs in the past and has more civic associations than any other county. Holden was honored as the quintessential civic activist, for his tireless service to the community, and his lofty accomplishments, not the least of which is the Juniper Park Civic Association, founded in 1938, which he has shaped into one of the leading civic groups in New York State. The JPCA has fought against de Blasio’s forced hotel conversions into homeless shelters throughout Queens, as well as successfully saving the former Elmhurst Gas Tanks 6.5-acre site from over-development, which is now a beautiful park. He is also the managing editor and art director of America’s finest volunteer civic publication, the Juniper Berry Magazine. Holden is a true American hometown hero.
Our past honored Veteran, John Peterkin, who served in World War II, as well as two combat tours in Korea, and two combat tours in Vietnam, presented the Rabbi Morton Pomerantz Veteran of the Year Award to Lt. Col. Paul Schottenhamel. The haunting melodies of “Mansions of the Lord” played in honor of our fallen US military heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, as our Veteran honoree was escorted up to the dais. LTC Schottenhamel, who was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry in April, 1969 and served in combat in the Republic of Vietnam, was wounded in battle and spent 30 days in the hospital. He returned home and completed his service obligation at Fort Benington, GA with the 197th Infantry Brigade. He left active duty in 1971 and joined the NY Army National Guard. He retired from the military in 1997 after 29 years of service, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He has been awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service and Air Medals. He was honored for his heroism on the battlefield, and his tireless service to the community of veterans in New York City, in order to always remember their service and sacrifice to keep America free.
David Bressler, Regional Manager of Bimbo Bakeries USA and Republican candidate for the 2018 NYS Assembly race in 26th Assembly District in Northeast Queens, presented the honors of the Republican Woman of the Year Award, to Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis for Woman’s History Month, March 2017. She was honored for speaking out boldly on the major issues of public safety, national security and law and order, which affect all New Yorkers, as a shining example of a true leader elected by the people to uphold the principles of the Republican Party in our government. Recently, she has been railing against irresponsible city and state officials, including Mayor de Blasio, who defy federal laws by harboring many classifications of criminal aliens under the city’s sanctuary policies. As a daughter of Greek and Cuban immigrants, her mother a Cuban exile of the Castro regime, she cherishes those who come here to pursue the American Dream, but makes clear the distinction between those who do it legally and those who do so illegally. She stood up alone, against the wishes of her timid colleagues, outspoken as one of the sole voices in the NYS Assembly against the corruption of past Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. She is the New York Republican’s true star. As Bressler said in his introduction: “It would be my honor to work with Nicole in the NYS Assembly where I know I would be working side by side with an elected official that puts the people ahead of the politics. What a role model she has been for future potential Republican candidates like myself, and the Republican Party.”
Dinner was served and then Orenstein acknowledged dignitaries present, and thanked all who worked so hard behind the scenes on the Ways and Means Committee to put together this magnificent event, the wonderful Lincoln Dinner journal, the raffle baskets, balloons, decorations, and a whole lot more. He encouraged everyone to support the advertisers in the journal who support the work of our club.
Joe Concannon, our Republican candidate for City Council, introduced the NYC mayoral candidates, giving the background story on present Mayor de Blasio who seeks to divide the city, denounces New York’s Finest, plunged the city into a homeless crisis, without any solutions or vision, and has 1000’s of businesses fleeing our city for economically friendlier pastures. Rev. Michel Faulkner spoke about his vision for NYC, as did John Catsimatidis, who hasn’t yet declared his candidacy. Mayoral candidate Paul Massey had to leave the event earlier, as well as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a NYS gubernatorial candidate.
The next honoree was Tariq Rehmat, a National Diversity Coalition for Trump Advisor and President of the United Pakistani-American Christian Community who received the Republican Leader of the Year Award. His rousing speech, to chants of “Tariq, Tariq, Tariq” received a standing ovation as he proclaimed his gratitude to his mentors in the Republican Party, his love for America, for President Trump and his determination to Make America Great Again. Most importantly, he expressed his everlasting love for his wife, Aneela, who accompanied him to the dais, for her patience and support as he spent a lot of time campaigning for various Republican candidates. He concluded his remarks with Psalm 75:6-7, “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.” God Bless America!
Katherine James, President of the Queens County Federation of Republican Women, and club board member, spoke glowingly about a woman of valor and courage, Margaret A. Wagner, who was honored with the Businesswoman of the Year Award. As a successful entrepreneur in the real estate business, her title is Associate Broker at Century 21 Amiable II. As past president of the Rockaway Republican Club, she has been a “mover and shaker” and activist in Queens political campaigns and in her Rockaway community where she has received numerous Real Estate Awards and Community Service Awards. She is full of life and love, and still celebrating the great victory of President Trump. Her vibrant spirit is contagious as it spreads throughout the Rockaway Peninsula and out into Queens and beyond!
The next speaker was Queens County GOP Chairman, Bob Turner, who introduced the Keynote Speaker, John Jay LaValle, Chairman, Suffolk County GOP and Regional Vice Chair of NYS GOP. He was honored with the American Patriot of the Year Award, for his winning spirit in all his endeavors and most importantly, for putting his country above his political aspirations, as a shining example of a great patriot, a true statesman and an exemplary leader. This all played out dramatically after he made the bold decision to publicly endorse Donald Trump from day one, as he was soundly scorned in both Republican and Democrat political circles, who agreed that LaValle’s political aspirations were finished. But he put his country above his own political future, proudly standing with Trump, and was vindicated with victory in the end.
He imparted to the audience the “winning spirit” from his own example in 2009 when he took over the leadership of a decimated Republican Party in Suffolk County, and captured over two dozen seats from the Democrats. He said Donald Trump was the first Republican to win an election in Suffolk County in a quarter of a century. He also spoke of knowing the President intimately as a man who truly cares about people, and is determined to help our inner cities. Trump says we are as strong as our weakest link, and that is the rationale behind building the wall, since 94% of heroin in the U.S. is coming up from the southern border pouring into our inner cities. He used the analogy of the “weakest link” to encourage the Republicans of Queens County that we are a team, as we strive for victory together.
President Trump will put a lot of Americans back to work in our cities. This presidential election was the “super bowl” and we picked the right guy. He said, the economy is starting to boom again, businesses are growing, and people are believing again. We are winning and the Republican Party should never tire of winning. The message “united we will win and grow as a team,” was well received as each participant took home the spirit of victory to apply to our upcoming campaigns.
The Viennese Table was served with mouth-watering desserts. Music was provided by John Walters as revelers danced until Chaplain Philip Sica gave the closing benediction.