Nearly 800 TFAS alumni, supporters, leadership, faculty and friends gathered in celebration of 50 years of The Fund for American Studies on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Also attending were members of Congress, ambassadors and dignitaries from government.
The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld set the tone for the evening as gala chairman. Taking the stage in front of the historic and column-lined court of the National Building Museum, Rumsfeld welcomed guests for an evening of celebration and rededication to the cause of human liberty.
“When TFAS was founded 50 years ago, our nation was engaged in a great geopolitical struggle against the ideology of communism,” he said. “Today the battle of ideas still divides our world, but we fight on. The future of our great nation depends on our ability to prepare rising leaders to defend and promote a free society.”
Rumsfeld’s words echoed throughout the night as honored guests, leadership and alumni provided personal testimony to the work TFAS has done and continues to do to ensure that the ideas most conducive to freedom and human flourishing are not forgotten.
TFAS Chairman Randal C. Teague honored the five men – Charles Edison, David R. Jones, William F. Buckley, Jr., Dr. Walter H. Judd and Marvin Liebman – who joined together to form The Fund for American Studies in 1967. He also paid tribute to those who have carried the torch forward as the programs expanded from one program with 56 students to an international organization with 15 institutes and fellowship programs and nearly 17,000 alumni worldwide. Teague encouraged the audience to look about them to see the living memorial to our founders – a room full of alumni and the leadership, faculty and supporters who make the TFAS journey possible.
2017 Walter Judd Freedom Award recipient, Garry Kasparov, received a standing ovation for his remarks that drew parallels between the evils of communism that impassioned Dr. Walter Judd and others to fight tyranny with human liberty in the 60s, 70s and 80s and the political and social climate of today.
“It is a time of great division in American and global politics today, and people are nervous about partisan or ideological speeches. But I’m afraid it is against my nature to avoid it,” warned Kasparov. “However, my partisanship is not about one party versus another. No, my bias is free over unfree. My politics are democracy over dictatorship. My ideology is individual liberty over government authority.” You can read Kasparov’s full remarks here.
More than 150 TFAS alumni attended the gala, some from as far away as Europe and Central America who made the special trip to reconnect with TFAS friends and celebrate the program that made such an impact on their lives.
The alumni were well represented by Stephen F. Hayes (AIPES 94, Novak 00), editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard, and Anna Smith Lacey (AIPES 07, ICPES 08), executive director of The Hungary Initiatives Foundation, when they took the stage to speak about their TFAS journey.
Smith Lacey spoke from her heart as a native of Hungary, a country that lived under communism for 50 years. “I am especially grateful that TFAS promotes liberty both in America and around the world,” she said. “TFAS has played a pivotal role in my life and in the lives of its 17,000 alumni around the world.”
Hayes, also a TFAS trustee and former director of the TFAS Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ), spoke about how his TFAS experience steered him toward a path of responsible journalism. He said, “When I write for The Weekly Standard or appear on Fox News, I am always cognizant of the important lessons that TFAS taught me – first that a journalist must adhere to the highest ethical standards and get the facts straight, even if it means missing a potential scoop. And second that every story has an economic angle. Reporters need to understand economics and apply sound economic reasoning to their stories.”
Although current events kept ABC “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir (IPJ 93) from attending the event in person, he made a special appearance by video, speaking about his TFAS experience and how he still thinks about the program every time he comes back to our nation’s capital to deliver the news.
Showcasing his “LIVE. LEARN. INTERN.” brochure from 1993, Muir spoke about his internship, economics and ethics courses and the critical thinking opportunities that the program provided.
“I remember the spirited debate, the conversations we had in class … and at the end of that summer, the respect we had for one another. I hope for more of that today because I believe we have more in common in these times than many give us credit for,” said Muir. “I salute The Fund for American Studies for continuing that conversation – the embracing ideas, the challenging of conventional wisdom and, above all, instilling a respect for differing opinions.”
The evening was closed by TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76), who gave an inspiring message on the prosperity and innovations that people can and do achieve when governments simply give them freedom to do so. Ream also outlined a vision for the future of TFAS and how the organization plans to ensure that human liberty prevails over government oppression. You can read his full remarks here.
Before sending the crowd off with a rendition of God Bless America by his TFAS classmate and former TFAS Trustee Mark Stansberry (ICPES 76) and Mark’s wife Nancy, Ream challenged the audience to be protectors of our shared inheritance.
“Destiny does indeed require us to keep alive the American experiment in liberty,” he said. “Freedom and free enterprise are threatened as never before by an ever-growing government and a dangerous cultural divide. We clash over the most basic values we once shared – self-reliance, the rule of law, economic liberty and even freedom of speech and of association. If we truly want our Republic to survive, we must return to the principles that animated the American founding and that can unite us as Americans.”
The evening was made possible by our generous 50th Anniversary Gala Sponsors. Special thank you to our platinum sponsor, the J P Humphreys Foundation, and to our gold sponsors: Cline Family Cellars, the DeJoy-Wos Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Philip M. Friedmann, The Charles Koch Foundation, Ken and Frayda Levy, Mr. Robert Luddy, NFIB and the John William Pope Foundation.