For 16 months, the outside world has watched almost helplessly as the people of Syria, inspired by the promise of the Arab Spring, have faced the resolute determination of Bashar Al Assad to hang onto power. And, just this week, the worst massacre in the conflict, resulting in 100 to 200 dead, may signal that violence is escalating, not declining, despite warnings, threats and negotiations led by western powers.
Normally I would not focus on an international issue like the civil conflict in Syria, but on Monday I joined approximately 75 other people at the Clifton Mosque in an interfaith prayer service for the people of Syria. There, a Cincinnatian born in Syria told the story of his homeland. I decided to invite him to join me this morning on Newsmakers.
Ashraf Traboulsi was born in Homs, Syria. He earned his bachelors degree from the University of Damascas and a doctoral degree in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky. Trboulsi works as a senior scientist and technical team leader at Procter & Gamble. He is the president of the local Syrian American foundation. And, Dr. Imad Shami, whose brother was killed by a sniper in Syria six moths ago.
For 37 years, men and women who are 65, 75, 80 or more and love to dance have gotten together once a year. But this year, financial problems endanger the annual senior prom.
Since 1974, up to a thousand senior citizens, many living in retirement facilities, have come downtown once a year for a day of dancing, a meal and camaraderie. This year, a 38 year tradition started by Lucille Chenault is in danger because of the lack of financial support.
I am joined now by the two long time organizers and impresarios of the Cincinnati Senior Ball, Doris Brown and Bill Mallory, a great dancer in his own right.