Vibrant colors, traditional dress, and a lively atmosphere, filled VOA headquarters as staff, alumni, and special guests gathered last week to celebrate a significant milestone. Last month, Voice of America marked 75 years of broadcasting to audiences worldwide.
The March 2nd event paid tribute to past and present VOA journalists and all those who support the agency’s mission to deliver balanced news and information to a global audience of more than 236 million people. The colorful event included greetings and congratulations from special guests, video presentations, live music, and VOA recognitions by senior management. Congratulatory video messages from U.S. government officials and dignitaries from around the globe rounded out the presentation. A panel of VOA journalists from several language services was moderated by Director Amanda Bennett. The discussion focused on how VOA has told America’s story since its inception. With a backdrop of supporting images, the first of two processions featured reporters describing major global events that VOA has covered over the years. The celebration concluded with a second display of VOA staff in native dress from their countries of origin, a musical selection by VOA alumnus, Eric Felten and his quartet, and the unveiling of a commemorative painting that was created during the program by Lukman Ahmad of VOA’s Kurdish Service. A variety of historical VOA artifacts was displayed in Voice of America’s briefing room.
Special guests included Vlora Citaku, Ambassador of Kosovo to the U.S, Floreta Faber, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to the U.S, David Bakradze, Ambassador of Georgia to the U.S., Djerdj Matkovic, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the U.S., Nebojsa Kaludjerovic, Ambassador of Montenegro to the U.S., Mohammad Ziauddin, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the U.S., as well as former VOA Directors Eugene Pell, Sanford Ungar, David Ensor, and Mary Bitterman (VOA’s first female director), and former Deputy Director and long-time VOA supporter, Alan Heil.
“Very Happy Birthday to the Voice of America! We in Kosovo will forever be thankful and grateful to the VOA, for being the voice of truth during our most difficult days. A big thank you to the Albanian section of VOA. I am honored to attend your celebrations,” said Ambassador Vlora Citaku in a Facebook post.
After the 90-minute program, the celebrations continued throughout the afternoon, as each of VOA’s seven divisions showcased the work and culture of their language services with videos, food, music, and dance. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude, for the hard work and impact that comes out of this building. Seeing all that made me feel better than ever about VOA,” said VOA Director, Amanda Bennett, following the daylong celebration.
For more on VOA’s anniversary year, visit our webpage VOA75.com for current and historical highlights, reminiscences, and greetings from staff, alumni, dignitaries, broadcast partners, and more. Please share your photos and memories of VOA on VOA75.com.