By Merita B. McCormack */
Reflection after the first meeting/
On Saturday, March 15th, the new VATRA called for its new Leadership, the new Executive Board, the new General Council, and Editors of “Dielli” to a first meeting after the General Assembly on January 19 which was held in Michigan, organized by the Regional Vatra Chapter of that state. This first meeting was also held on the 111-th Anniversary of Dielli’s first publication.
The meeting hall of VATRA house in New York was full and the atmosphere was warm. It is always good to see the brothers and sisters whom we share the same blood but also work on the same page, serving the same ideal in regard to Albanian matters.
Being a member of VATRA is both an honor and a privilege, which calls not only for great respect for its age, for the work of our predecessors but also for a greater responsibility for its future and the mission to carry.
Mr. Elmi Berisha, an experienced VATRAN and with a commendable business background, is the first Albanian American hailing from Kosova, to be the new Chairman to lead VATRA. Also, Mr. Agim Rexhaj the Honorary President of VATRA, a former VP for so many terms, is an Albanian American of Kosova. It is a blessing for our organization that they are from Kosova, a fact that has brought us joy. We did not intend to elect a chairman and a honorary chairman simply because they are from Kosova, the fact that they are, has come about lately and is a joyful occasion.
The new Chairman focused on unity, much work and less words, forging ahead with a VATRA that is true to its form and mission, reaching out to the young generations and furthering the good work. One can tell that it was both motivating and heartwarming for all. This was reflected through the several discussions and suggestions from every vatran. The atmosphere of cooperation and desire to help was very obvious. From Mr. Agim Rexhaj, to VPs like Mr. Alfons Grishaj, Mr. Besim Malota, Dr. Pashko Camaj and Mr. Ervin Dine, you could see not only the desired unity, but a well displayed desire to serve well, by working together, as a team. They all expressed their thoughts on the ways and means to lay the ground for the upcoming work and to set a clear vision for the VATRA of 21st Century.
The leaders of regional chapters, members of both Boards, editors of Dielli like Mr. Mondi Rakaj, Mr. Dalip Greca, Mr. Marjan Cubi, Mrs. Marjana Bulku, Dr. Milaim Tahiri, Mrs. Rafaela Prifti, Mr. Adem Malellari, Mr Kujtim Porja, Mr. Lek Mirakaj, Mr. Lek Perlleshi, Mr. Idriz Lamaj, Mr. Valentin Lumaj, Mr. prend Qeta, Mr. Dritan Haxhia and this author (pardon me if I forgot other names) spoke and discussed, suggested and elaborated on what they think the work should be focused on. It was clear that through many discussions, its leaders and members affirmed that VATRA is always on the side of Albanian people and American People, supporting the policy of the US government in the Balkan and that Vatra remains an organization known for its anticommunist stance. There were several discussions who called for outreach to the honorable and loved members of VATRA who were not present that day and how to solve some disagreements that still exist. There were also calls for auditing the financial assets and institutions during the tenure of former presidencies.
VATRA has survived many storms and tribulations and always has emerged stronger and that the trials are only purging what is unnecessary. One of those unnecessary things was brought up by the new President as the mass communications of unproductive emails which have been noted for some time and which should stop, for the good of VATRA and for the good of Albanians. He called for unity of all and emphasized that work ought to justify the promises. That was a very appropriate advice at this very poignant time for us all. VATRA has garnered a lot of strength and support and that strength comes from the very nuclear power that it generates because of its mission, its good works and its purpose. VATRA was founded on just principles, for the right goals and Serving is its unspoken but obvious motto. Its members understand that. Let us continue to serve as its founders devised and dreamed it to be. We all can do it by keeping the ideal alive, a pure heart and a mind that is clear and at the service of the nation and not of self.
*The Author is the Member of Executive Board, resident of Virginia and a former DC representative and Regional Chapter President of VATRA.