While New York City was experiencing 12+ inches of snow on Wednesday, February 2nd, an amazing event took place in Greece. Iakovos Tsounis, no relation to the writer, Greek shipowner, and founder of the Museum “Iakovos Tsounis” in Aigio donated 23 million euros and 60 landing craft to the Armed Forces. Patriotism motivated Mr. Tsounis. The 97-year-old shipowner fought at the age of 16 in the Greek-Italian War of 1940. His wealth has been donated to the armed forces.
The national benefactor was born in Patras. His ancestors fought in the 1821 Greek Revolution. He started as a customs broker in Piraeus. In 1966. Mr. Tsounis entered shipping as a shipowner, acquiring a total of 13 merchant ships and forming a large fortune. His charitable work began. The “Iakovos Tsounis Museum” in downtown Aigio has religious, ethnic and historical collections. In 2018, The WWII veteran was honored with the Star of Value and Honor. Minister of National Defense, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos awarded Mr. Tsounis the reserve rank of Major General in April 2020.1
How did I hear about this event? “Iakovos Tsounis donated 23 million euros to the Greek armed forces,” said Dimitris Filippidis in his Hellas FM morning program. I stopped drinking my coffee in astonishment. I have not heard of such a donation since the Epirus Benefactors of the 19th century, such as George Averof, Evangelos, and Konstantinos Zappas. I called my Aunt Lucy, a retired California schoolteacher, to find out if he was related to us. Her father, Nick Tsounis, and his older brother Vlassis Tsounis, my grandfather, who were from Panagia, Limnos, never talked about their family. They immigrated to America before 1912 when Limnos was part of the Ottoman Empire. Ancestry records were destroyed by the Ottoman Turks. All I can say is this: I am glad I learned Greek from the Greek Archdiocese system of New York City, so I can understand Greek programs from the original source.
I began researching the response of the Greek citizen to this event. I emailed Dr. Isaak Papadopoulos, who I know from the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” Online programs, to learn his opinion. “Many hands make a light work!” he said. “People like Iakovos Tsounis have been and should be role models for all the people, especially in periods of crisis. People need to have examples to follow and imitate behaviors!”
Patriotism and love of one’s country exist in 2021 Greece.