By Mauricio Sulaiman
Once again, I started to look through another photo album of the awards and recognitions that my father was presented, drawing my attention some special photographs from the night of October 26, 2010, at the Baalbeck Room of the Lebanese Center in the Florida neighborhood, in Mexico City.
The Maronite Diocese of Mexico awarded him the Honorary Decoration of the “Knight of Saint Gregory the Great”, which was presented by Archbishop Georges Saad Abi Younes. They recognized him for his human qualities, his merits, his work and dedication. His dignified and honest work in favor of the Church and Mexico, as well as sports and international boxing.
It was a very special day, because he was accompanied by some of his closest friends such as Don Carlos Slim, who took a seat at the table of honor. Manuel Mondragón, then Secretary of Public Security for the Federal District, was also present there. He also enjoyed the evening alongside Don Jos, Mr. Nouhad Mahmoud, Lebanon’s ambassador to Mexico, and Senator Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, among others.
A video was projected on the screens of the Lebanese Center where my little nephews played and ran, but a little after they would talk about their grandfather’s career as president of the World Boxing Council and as an ordinary human being who spent most of his free time with his beloved family.
Before the formal ceremony began, a dinner with a Lebanese snack was offered. The award ceremony began, the representative of the Maronite Church in Mexico, Archbishop Georges Saad Abi Younes, took the floor, and said:
“I present one more recognition to José Sulaimán, who has received several, it seems of little importance, but to offer THE decoration, the” Knight of Saint Gregory the Great “Medal, awarded by the Holy See, at the request of the Maronite Church, and in the community with which he shares origin, tradition and values. It is different because it is conceived after extensive study only to people who have distinguished themselves as exemplary Christians.
The official act continued, the archbishop placed the insignia on him and handed him the parchment. Applause and congratulations rained to him. Don José took the microphone and with his particular style commented:
“I didn’t know they were going to show that video, which moved me deeply and reminded me of the years that will not return. I thank the Maronite Church for this distinction that honors me, because I will always carry it in my heart. This medal represents my eternal efforts on being a good Christian by trying to always help my fellow men.”
Among the attendees, the figure of the great actor Ignacio López Tarso stood out, as well as the outstanding athletes and champions who got along that night with my father.
Jesús Ramírez leader of the Sub 17 soccer world champions. Olympic medalists: Carlos Mercenario and our recently deceased friend Carlos Girón.
Our champions also witnessed the recognition: Pipino Cuevas, Rafael Herrera, Humberto “Chiquita” González, Rubén “Púas” Olivares, Carlos Zárate and Lupe Pintor.
It was a meeting full of stars and a night of joy that has been recorded in our minds, spirits and in the albums. We will be always remembering those moments of happiness and that we will continue browsing to continue narrating stories and anecdotes of Don José throughout his lovely and amazing life.