Al Smith Dinner – 10.15.09
Last night’s Al Smith Dinner was a special thrill for me. I remember so clearly 1960 when I was a 10 year old boy in Missouri, and seeing John Kennedy and Richard Nixon on the Huntley-Brinkley Report joining my predecessor, Francis Cardinal Spellman, at that year’s Smith Dinner. I never dreamed that one day I’d be hosting the Smith Dinner, and that I would have the privilege of being with our honored guest speaker Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his lovely wife Deborah, and so many other notable guests including New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson and other civic, community, and business leaders.
The real purpose of the evening, of course, is not the speeches, even one as wonderful as Admiral Mullen’s, or the opportunity for New York’s political parties to put aside their partisan differences for one night of good fellowship. The real reason we come together is to honor the legacy of Alfred E. Smith, a four-term Governor of New York, and the 1928 Democratic nominee for President, and to carry on the legacy of “The Happy Warrior” by raising funds to provide support for the sick, poor, and underprivileged children in Greater New York, regardless of their race, creed, or color. Last night’s dinner raised about two million dollars which will be distributed throughout the coming year.
My sincere thanks to Admiral Mullen for taking time out of his busy schedule to be with us, and to the more than 800 guests who joined us to remember and emulate Governor Al Smith.