The Face of America: Remembering Emily

By Tony Mussari & Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, 2010

I saw the Face of America to day in the ballroom of the Colony South Hotel in Clinton, Maryland.

I saw the Face of America today, it was beautiful, caring, compassionate, concerned, connected and determined to remember the wonderful life and brave deeds of a woman named Emily.
I saw the Face of America today it belonged to people who are rich and poor, young and old, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, students and teachers.
I saw the Face of America today, it was diverse in all the ways that America is diverse, and radiant in all ways that diversity makes America strong and confident.
This Face of America belonged to a congresswoman named Edwards and her special assistant named Gore. It belonged to a philanthropist named James, and his wife Phyllis; it belonged to the grand dame of television news in Washington, D.C. JC Hayward.
This Face of America belonged to a soft spoken pastor named Deas, an interpretative dancer named Imani, a well spoken student named Eboni, and a charming board member named Carmen. It belonged to an enormously talented musician named Melinda, a still photographer named Lynette, and a service award honoree named Ingrid.
This Face of America belonged to Ellis and Robert, two Korean War veterans who looked young for their 80 plus years and their battle scars.
There were others, many others who I never got to meet.
You see, this Face of America is a magnificent collage of American faces.  It belonged to about 200 people who came to this place to carry on the work of the Emily they admire and respect.
During this evening of celebration, honor, service, sharing, and remembrance, this Face of America laughed a little, cried a little, thought a lot, and always stood in awe at the dignity, class and strength of Emily’s parents, Vicki and Daniel Perez.
These are parents with broken hearts. You can see it in their eyes.  You can hear it when they speak. You can feel it in every breath they take. They lost their daughter at a place they have never been and most likely they will never visit, somewhere in Iraq.  She was 23 and the most decorated Black Hispanic female cadet to ever graduate from West Point.
I saw the Face of America today in one of the most beautiful, emotional, and moving moments of my life.
It belonged to every man, woman and child who attended the third annual Emily J.T. Perez foundation banquet.
This Face of America is giving. This Face of America is serving. This Face of America is helping.  This Face of America is moving forward despite great pain and sadness.
This is a Face of America without equal just like the person we came here to honor, 2d Lt. Emily Perez, because this face of America is making a difference in the lives of young women who will one day become the next Emily Perez.
This Face of America is what Arthur Ashe called a hero’s face, because it radiates the urge to serve others at whatever cost, and that’s the face of America on its very best days.

That’s Emily’s Way.
To read a copy of the remarks we made at the Emily J.T. Perez Foundation Banquet, please go to:

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