FORT WORTH – On November 13th 2018, the City Council of Fort Worth officially declared November 28th 2018 as Albanian-American Day.
As Albanians observe the 106th anniversary of Albania’s independence and its breaking away from the Ottoman Empire, the Albanian American Cultural Center (AACC) is celebrating this important day with Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) civic leaders.
Fort Worth Council Member Cary Moon presented the City Proclamation to AACC Board of Directors on November 13th 2018. (See the photo above.)
AACC President Bruno Ceka who accepted the proclamation said, “..we are very grateful for these words acknowledging November 28th, this very important day for all Albanians worldwide.” Mr. Ceka added, “I feel personally most honored to be a part of this ceremony because of Mayor Betsy Price’s and Councilmember Cary Moon’s gracious recognition of our community”.
The Proclamation’s text reads as follows, “…there has always been a lasting and respectful relationship between the Albanian people and the United States of America. The contributions of Albanian-Americans have undoubtedly added to the arts, business, education, social service, and scientific and technological advancements of this City and its surrounding areas.”
Today, over half a million Americans claim Albanian heritage, linked by the shared sense of entrepreneurship and tradition instilled in our great country. Albanian-Americans have helped build America and enrich our culture since the arrival of the first Albanians on American soil in the 1800s. Albanians have also played an important role in building some of our great American cities, including New York, New York, Worcester, Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and others.
Outside of Dallas, Fort Worth is home to a growing Albanian-American community. As Census records show, over 4,200 people in Tarrant County and over 12,000 in the North Texas region are of Albanian descent. According to Zek Nokshiqi, vice-president of AACC “there are over 45 successfully-run restaurants in the City of Fort Worth, 120 in Tarrant County alone, out of more than 450 in the DFW area – all are owned by Albanians.”
On Albanian-American Day, we celebrate the invaluable contributions that Americans of Albanian descent have made to every facet of our society. Many Albanian-Americans in Dallas-Fort Worth are also distinguished entrepreneurs and leaders in the fields of education, public service, healthcare, and engineering.
In addition, Albanian-Americans have a proud history of military service for this country beginning as early as WWI to today serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This past week we observed Veteran’s Day, and it is appropriate to highlight that other than Albanian-American success stories, there are also Albanian-American hero stories from Fort Worth.
Ervin Dervishi was a 2002 graduate of Western Hills High School, Fort Worth ISD, where he played soccer. Ervin, his parents and brother came to the United States in 1999. He grew up under communism and wanted something better and something different for his life, and above all, to keep peace.
After emigrating from Albania to the United States, Ervin joined the Army because he thought it would be the best way to train for a career in law enforcement. Dervishi became a U.S. citizen after he was inducted into the Army. He was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. Dervishi was also present at Operation Red Dawn during the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Private First Class Dervishi, 21, of Fort Worth, Texas died on January 24, 2004, after attackers in Baji, Iraq, fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the vehicle in which he was riding. His surviving brother, Saimir, said, “Ervin left a kid, he became a man, and died a hero”!
The deep bond between the United States of America and Albania, continues today. Together, we are a cornerstone of the transatlantic alliance and champions of economic and personal freedom. U.S.-Albanian relations have prospered and grown, and Albania is today one of America’s staunchest allies, particularly in the global fight against terrorism.
As the City of Fort Worth and the Albanian American Cultural Center launch their Albanian-American friendship we proudly honor and celebrate these strong ties and examine how we will build on our partnership in the years to come.