By Mehdi Amini
On Sunday June 29, 2008 we held a ceremony in Reston, VA to honor our Father, Mr. Nosratollah Amini, a dad, a grandfather and a husband, for his 70+ years of public service as a lawyer, a judge, an inspector general, a mayor and personal attorney to Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh.
And the nominees for best supporting actors/actresses are:
Mohammad Amini- the eldest son of the Amini family, for his opening speech.
Fariba Amini- The only daughter of the Amini family, who came up with the idea.
Mehdi Amini- The youngest son of the Amini family, who volunteered his email and cell phone for the purpose of contact as well as running the background Video/computer equipment.
Roxana Amini- daughter of Mohammad, who escaped Iran riding on a boz (goat) with me (she actually meant ghater or mule).
Tara Ebrahimi- daughter of Fariba, who gave a speech about losing a $20 bill given to her which she cherished and lost and her Baba Amini miraculously "found " and gave it to her when she first visited Iran many...many.....many years ago!
Dr. Rudi Matthee - The lucky husband of my sister and the newest member of the Amini family from Holland who gave a speech in Persian on how he met his wife and his view of the Amini family, reciting a Hafez poem for his father in law.
It all began when I received a phone call three weeks ago from my sister Fariba about this grand idea of hers, asking for my feedback. Although I knew she had already made up her mind and since she does not like to hear the word "NO", I gave her my blessing and agreed to have my email and phone number used for advertisement.
That night she sent me the first draft of the flier and I emailed it to some friends and family members without making any corrections/changes to the text.
The funny thing after that was the numbers of condolences I received. As expected, many people had read the title of the event without reading the details and they had come to the conclusion that my father had passed away and so, to express their sympathy, they emailed or phoned me about the great loss to my family! So my brother made some changes to the text to remove any doubt about my father's condition. Yet the condolences continued!
The reason we decided to organize this event was to go against the norm of our Iranian culture in which we remember people after their death. You have a gathering of friends and families to mourn someone's loss. We decided instead to have an event before my father's death to celebrate his life. I think this should become the norm rather than the exception!
Sunday arrived and we were all nervous. Nervous whether our father would attend the event and nervous whether we would be able to get through such a program.
The program was to start at 3 PM but as is the norm in the Iranian community, people started coming in around 3:30. So it promptly started at 4:10 pm with the song of Aye Iran sung by Gholam Hossein Banan, my father's favorite singer. Fariba started the ceremony by greeting the attendees and stating that the two things she had learned from her dad was to love people, to help them and to believe in democracy and a government that is ruled by the people and for the people. She ended her speech by stating the Prime Minister Mossadegh was such a person. She then invited Roxana to the podium. Roxana welcomed the audience in English, thanking them for attending. Then my older brother Mohammad continued the program by saying that even though my father was a devout Moslem, he never forced anyone to follow his track. After him, we had 3 of my father's oldest friends come to the podium to give a account of their younger days, each in his own way. They were Dr. Baradar, a lawyer and ex-member of the Iranian Senate, who had come all the way from Oregon; Sarhang Kourangi, the head of shahrbani during the premiership of Bazargan, and Dr. Gheisari; a surgeon from New Jersey.
Next in line was Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, the prominent scholar in Persian language and literature and editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica. He has been a friend of my dad for the past 71 years.
Then it was my turn. I was charged with reading Stephen Kinzer's letter and then I introduced another good friend of the family and someone who could be considered our biggest brother, Mr. Hossein Ebneyouseff. Hossein read two letters from friends of my father and recited a poem recited written especially for my father by his sister in law.
After that the program continued with Tara who gave a speech about her lost $20 bill when she visited year at the age of 9. The funny thing at this point was that while she was talking about all the good things about my dad, my mom, who was sitting next to him, shouted "What about your grandmother?" To which Tara retorted by saying that if she had to talk about her grandmother, it would take three days to finish. She read a message from Professor Thomas Ricks, who has known our family for nearly 40 years.
Next we showed a video message from the longest-held political prisoner of the Islamic Republic, Abbas Amir Entezam. He called my father the true disciple of Cryus, Amir Kabir and Mossadegh. He is too kind.
Then it was the turn of the speaker of the day, Dr. Rudi Matthee. He talked in Persian, about how he met my sister, and fell in love and eventually got married. And how he wished he had met my father earlier in his life to learn more about his vast knowledge of Persian literature and Iranian history. He continued by saying how the Amini siblings live happily and merrily with each other and never fight! Needless to say, the audience had a good laugh at that). As is usual for Iranians, who often end a speech by reciting a poem, he read a poem by Hafez. That's why I really don't believe him when he says he is from Holland! There must be a Persian blood in him somewhere!!
Following his talk there was a break so people would enjoy the tea, coffee and the Iranian cookies provided by us and made by an Armenian bakery called Classique in Maryand.
After this brief intermission, we showed parts of a movie made by my sister called "Ahmad Abad". She had taken this while she had gone to Iran and visited the rundown estate of Prime Minister Mossadegh and took a tour along with another friend and had interviewed the one-time housekeeper, Mr. Takrousta, who is now retired.
Next it was Mehrangiz Kar's turn. She is an attorney just like my dad. She talked about my dad's time as a lawyer and ended her speech by saying the Amini was a lawyer for someone like Mossadegh, who himself was the lawyer of a whole nation, defending the rights of the Iranian People at The Hague and the UN [against the evil British.]
Next it was Fariba's turn to come to the podium and read a letter sent to her by a young Iranian Journalist from Sanandaj, whom she had been in touch with through her previous employment. Here is part of it:
" Honorable guests and participants,
From thousands of miles away, from Kermanshah, from the land of Boustan and Bisetoun, with a heart full of love I send you the organizers and participants my warmest greetings. You are honoring a man of principle and correctness, a man who is truly an example for the young generation of Iran, our father, Nostarollah Amini .
Let us use this occasion and in short take advantage of it to learn from the past, a past that has been stolen from our nation. Let us build a future which will be based upon the principles of democracy and respect for huma n rights. Let us know learn that in order to explain human beings we should not want a readymade prescription. Achieving democracy is more than just going to prison and giving slogans, we must believe in deep changes within ourselves and our inner soul.
send my warmest wishes to all of you and would like to thank the Amini family
for organizing this event. I kiss the hands of Nosratollah Amini who has
sacrificed his life for a better Iran and I hope to see all of you return one
day to your homeland." F.P.
We certainly can learn a lot from the young generation.
She then introduced Akbar Ganji, who talked about how my father's house is always open to the public; which is true! His house is always open day and night. In fact they probably have lost the key and don't care to have a new one made.
Following Ganji's speech, it was Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak's turn to speak. I am sure he needs no introduction but just in case there are some readers unfamiliar with him, he is the head of Persian cultural and linguistic department at the University of Maryland. Dr. Hakkak, reminded everyone that when he was a young student he used to come to my parents' house in Virginia and one day my father complained to him that he had bought a three colored ribbon (Italian flag-turned upside down it becomes the Iranian flag) to put around the sabzi for the Persian New Year and one of the boys had taken it off and put a red ribbon! He also said, Mr. Amini doesn't just belong to the Amini family but to everyone! That was so heartwarming.
A few more people spoke. One was Dr. Nasser Tahmassebi, a beloved physician in the DC area who has done his utmost to help the Iranian sick, mostly at no cost, and who now himself suffers from a rare brain disease. And last but certainly not least, there was Admiral Amir Houshang Aryanpour, who gave a short but wonderful talk.
Finally, Mrs. Kar read a message from Baba's old friend in Iran, Mr. Iraj Afshar. This message mentioned so many people I d id not even know but I guess they were important ones known to both my father and Mr. Afshar. They have been friends for over fifty years.
The event ended with the Amini gang getting on stage and thanking everyone for their attendance.
Some things were unfortunately omitted. My brother Mahmoud, who is a great piano player, didn't play a piece! We had a video message from Dr. Siasi, a great poet and long-time friend of my dad's who had sent a video message from Isfahan. Alas, we ran out of time and it got lost in the fray. But here it is.
And then there's my own dad, who first had told my sister that if she would organize this event he would put himself on fire as well as burn down the house (he doesn't like ceremonies, but fortunately did not make good on his threat). Later he told her, "I wish I had said something!"
Anyway, the moral of the story is that we should all do this sort of thing for our parents before they are gone, whatever the size of the gathering.
The winners are all those who wholeheartedly participated in this event. Thanks to all of you and thanks to my father for being such a good man! As for my mother, Nahid, who is the true gem of our family, without her, we would not be who we are!
 Nosratollah Amini is a man of many faces. To his family he is a loving patriarch. To his many friends he is a teacher, companion and advisor. To his native Iran he is a hero of democracy. And to the world, he is a link to one of the great liberating campaigns of modern history.
Iranians found themselves at the center of world history in the 1950s. The first nationalist leader ever to lead a poor country, Mohammad Mossadegh, was leading a peaceful revolution that would eventually reshape the world. The best, brightest, most patriotic Iranians joined him. Nosratollah Amini was one of these.
As part of the inner circle of visionaries who governed Iran during that turbulent period, the man we honor today helped set an example that continues to inspire campaigners for freedom in Iran and around the world.
Those who are lucky enough to know Nosratollah Amini well often testify to his inner qualities. The rest of us around the world, who know him as a public man, can only hope we and our children will be worthy of his noble example.-Stephen Kinzer
... Payvand News - 07/24/08 ... --