PHILADELPHIA --Yesterday night, October 5, 2004, the Salvation Army of the Greater Philadelphia opened its 125th Anniversary Celebration with a dinner at the lavish Wanamaker building besides the City Hall of Philadelphia, PA.
The event commemorated the organization’s decades of sacrifice and celebrated its anniversary in the city that was the birthplace of the first Salvation Army in America. It was started by Eliza Shirley, who, at the age of 17, took the vision of the organization’s founder William Booth and planted it in Philadelphia.
The celebratory dinner featured several invited speakers and an awards presentation.
In the speech in celebrating Salvation Army's 125th Anniversary, Major Jorge E. Diaz, the Director of Operations of Greater Philadelphia, said the purpose of the organization will remain unchanged after 125 years.
"We have walked 125 years with faith and we will continue to walk with faith in God,” he said. “We wish to continue to provide guidance with God's help on helping the dependent and to guide meaningful lives with leaders in hope."
Both main presidential candidates of the 2004 Election, Sen. John Kerry and President Bush, thanked The Salvation Army for its philanthropic efforts through taped videos.
Senator John Kerry congratulated the Salvation Army on video, saying that the organization "lives out the model in serving compassionately and bringing gifts to others. May God bless the Salvation Army, and may God bless America."
The President also made his warm greeting on video, saying, "I appreciate the Salvation Army, for it is a true strength for the soul of America. By faith and good works, may God continue to bless your work, and may God bless America."
In the highlight of the event, the crowd presented an award to the National Liberty Museum Founder and Chairman Irvin J. Borowsky.
Political Analyst for ABC News, Cokie Roberts, spoke at the event as a guest speaker, stating that the Salvation Army "clearly could not have succeeded without being a faith-based, old, but innovative organization."
She added, "The kettle still has to be filled, and let the reach-out continue. It's a happy cause to change and improve lives.”
At the close of the anniversary celebration, participants sang "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies" followed by a benediction.
The Salvation Army received many blessings for its work through featured testimonies. The celebration commemorates the organization’s past local and national contributions while greeting its promising mission in the future.