Acclaimed Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan Tells ADL: 'I Will Be A Foot Soldier In Your Mission'
New York, NY, October 30, 2009 … Before rising to sing "God Bless America" at the Anti-Defamation League's annual meeting Thursday night, acclaimed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan came with a simple request – that he be permitted to join the League's ranks as "a foot soldier in your mission" against anti-Semitism and discrimination.
"On this night in which we salute your commitment to eradicating hate and fostering hope, I simply ask to be allowed to join your humble ranks, with a contrite and a firm resolution, to be a foot soldier in your mission to remind us that we can never forget or allow the stain of anti-Semitism or discrimination in any form," he said before rising on the dais to sing his rendition of the Irving Berlin classic.
The League's national commissioners responded with a standing ovation.
Recalling how he was born with a lower leg deformity that resulted in both his legs being amputated below the knee, Dr. Tynan said he had known "the pain of disrespect, the humiliation of discrimination" as a child, making his anti-Jewish remark to a real-estate agent several weeks earlier that much more regrettable.
The celebrated tenor vowed to devote "my heart, my mind, my voice" to the League's mission of combating anti-Semitism and discrimination.
"I come here tonight not to explain my unintentional insensitivity, but to seek your forgiveness," Dr. Tynan told hundreds of ADL leaders gathered for a dinner in New York City.
"I understand the power of words, even uttered in misguided jest," Dr. Tynan said. "And unfortunately, that's what I did. I've unintentionally caused offense to fellow New Yorkers. And when I was made aware of this, I was deeply saddened and immediately apologized."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in response: "We need to give a message to people that they can be forgiven if they own up to their bigotry. Otherwise, it's counterproductive to our fight against racism."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.