- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

The Washington Times threw a party last night celebrating its 20th anniversary at a gala to a packed house at the Washington Hilton.
More than 3,000 congressmen, state legislators, and business and religious leaders from across the country attended the dinner and the reception to congratulate The Times on "Two Decades of Dedication and Distinction." The visitors even included members of the Diet, the Japanese parliament.
President Bush, preparing to depart for Moscow, sent a message via a White House aide. "Since 1982," he said, "people across America and throughout the world have relied on The Washington Times as a distinguished source of information and opinion.
"As a forum for the debate of timely issues, The Times has contributed significantly to a more informed public," the president wrote. "I commend the individuals whose hard work has helped The Washington Times become a major U.S. daily paper. Your continued pursuit of excellence is a credit to journalism."
Other greetings included those from Sen. Thomas Daschle of South Dakota, the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, who praised The Times in a video for enlivening the national debate.
The evening's keynote speaker, radio personality Laura Schlessinger, congratulated The Times on its 20 years of commitment to truth and freedom.
"In my experience, The Washington Times operates according to the tried-and-true traditions of a free press," she said. "Reporters and editors take their responsibilities seriously, always checking the facts. Then, they publish the truth, often in opposition to the herd mentality that guides the coverage of most of its competitors."
Wesley Pruden, the editor in chief of The Times, greeted the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the newspaper, with a cheery salute: "Rev. Moon," he said, "they said it couldn't be done. But we did it."
Asa Hutchinson, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Rep. Jennifer Dunn, Washington Republican; David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; and the Rev. Walter Fauntroy of the New Bethel Baptist Church, who gave the invocation at the dinner, talked of the "balance" the newspaper had brought to Washington journalism.
"A lot of what is printed wouldn't be printed if it hadn't been in The Washington Times," said retired Sen. Malcolm Wallop, Wyoming Republican. "Its presence keeps journalism honest."
"We appreciate having you in town," said Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican.
"It's been said that journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican. "The Washington Times is exceptional in that it fills that space well."
Rev. Moon, in his remarks, spoke of his vision for the newspaper. "The memory is still fresh in my mind of how, in May 1982, I made the final decision to publish the newspaper." He challenged the guests to "embody the qualities of defending freedom, promoting family values and strengthening your faith in God."
Douglas Joo, president of The Washington Times Corp., said, "We are proud to set a distinctive tradition in public discourse."
The first edition of The Washington Times rolled off borrowed presses May 17, 1982, nine months after the Washington Star's presses fell silent. News World Communications, a publishing company founded by Korean businessmen and others who were members of Rev. Moon's Unification Church, took on the mission of financing, designing and launching an independent newspaper in Washington.
The Times began operating from a makeshift newsroom in an old warehouse at 3600 New York Ave. NW. The paper was staffed by a handful of newspaper professionals recruited by a working group from News World headed by former Korean diplomat Bo Hi Pak.
Today, The Times has more than 820 employees, a daily circulation of 110,120, and is a newspaper with national influence.
Country music star Randy Travis entertained at the gala, after opening the proceedings by singing the national anthem. Also performing during the dinner were the Viennese Strings and the Children of the Gospel Choir.
As part of its 20th-anniversary celebration, The Times held an essay contest for students in grades three through 12 in the Washington area. From more than 800 submissions, 96 winners were selected in 12 categories. The top 12 winners honored last night were Valerie G. Peckarsky, Max Koehler, Matthew P. Farrell, Gina Depaul, Bin Yang, Linnay Corley, Graham Spicer, David Kay, Paul Thornley, Cherryce Lynn White, Kim Sorensen and Tara Lester.
The Times presented its Courage in Leadership Awards, which honor individuals who have shown distinction and courage in their fields of endeavor. Virginia State Trooper Michael Middleton, Fairfax County Fire Capt. Jerry Roussillon and Arlington County Fire Capt. Stephen McCoy were honored for their heroic efforts during the September 11 recovery efforts at the Pentagon.
The International Courage in Leadership Award was presented to Cesar Gaviria, the Organization of American States' secretary-general, known in Latin America as a conflict mediator, democracy advocate, staunch supporter of regional integration and defender of human rights.
The National Courage in Leadership Awards were presented to the Rev. Floyd Flake of the Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Queens, N.Y., and Michael S. Joyce, founder and chief executive officer of the Washington-based Americans for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise, which seeks to channel government and private funding to small, religious social service groups.


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