Αποψε εδω λοιπον , μεσα σ’αυτη την φιλοξενη αιθουσα λαμβανουμε την τιμιτικη διακριση. την διακριση του Φειδιππιδιου βραβειου ολοι μαζι. Δεν ειμαι ανθρωπος ουτε των βραβειων ουτε των υπερβολων, ουτε της πολλης συναφειας του κοσμου οπως λεει κι’ο ποιητης Καβαφης.
Ανταποκριθηκα στο καλεσμα του πολιτιστικου οργανισμου Γkαεπις πρωτα για να σεβαστω την ευγενικη αυτη προταση και δευτερον για να τιμησω και γω με την σειρα μου μιαν Ελληνικη φωνη της Ομογενειας που για 28 χρονια φωναζει και αγωνιζετε για την Ελλαδα την Κυπρο ,την γλωσσα μας και τον Ελληνισμο. Σας ευχαριστω ειλικρινα για την ξεχωριστη αυτη τιμη.
Eπισης ευχαριστω τον Προεδρο κ Κωστα Αγκελουδη, το Συμβουλιο και ολους τους εθελοντες του σταθμου.
Επισης θελω να ευχαριστησω την γυναικα μου Καρολ και την κορη μου Αριανα για την αγαπη τους την συμπαρασταση και υπομονη που μου εδειξαν τοσα χρονια .
Ειμαι ενας απο τους ανθρωπους που πιστευουν στην δυναμη της Ελληνικης ψυχης.
Ενας απλος στρατιωτης , μια μοναδα αυτης της ποθητης ομαδας η οποια θα μπορουσε να αποτελεσει την πιο ισχυρη γροθια αναμεσα στον Ελληνισμο της Αμερικης και την απανταχου Διασπορα.
Μια γροθια που θα μπορουσε πραγματικα να βοηθησει την κοινοτητα μας εδω, την Ελλαδα και την Κυπρο.
We are here tonight to receive this honor the Phidippidian award all of us together. I’m not someone who likes to receive awards and accolades. Many of you know that. I’m just a proud member of our community like all of us.
I accepted this award from the Cultural organization GAEPIS first ,to show respect to them for honoring me with this very prestigious award and in turn for me to honor GAEPIS the Greek voice of our Community which for 28 years is fighting for us our language Greece and Cyprus.
I thank you for this very special honor. Ι also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife Carol and daughter Ariana for their love, for standing behind me all these years , for their patience .
I’m one who strongly believes in the power of the Greek spirit. A plain soldier, a single unit in a desired group which could ultimately become a powerful force in our Community and the Diaspora.
A force which can truly help us here, help Greece and Cyprus.
I’d been here for 50 years. I saw many us become very successful in whatever we chose to do.
Be it a professional, an academic, an entrepreneur, a scientist, someone in politics. As single units we thrive. Our community rates first in education and second in wealth amongst the different nationalities here.
Sadly though in these 50 years I noticed a decline in the organized groups of the Omogenia.
Our Federations, our Somatia are threatened with extinction; they cannot attract our youth, our amazing young professionals. We did not managed to change our ways.
Our Church, the only institution we have in our country is diminishing. Membership is declining, our schools are closing. Without Institutions and organized groups a society and a community disappear. We are facing existential threats.
In these 50 years I noticed the decline of Greece and Cyprus. The amazing people, in these two countries unfortunately allowed people to lead them, when most of them were not leaders but crooks and opportunists.
Thus Greece and Cyprus are facing existential threats as well.
Why is our Church and other organized groups diminishing, and how can we help?
Why don’t we have more influence in Washington when as the Jews and others showed us that it is possible?
Why do we only have 7-8 Chartered schools and not hundreds like the Turks have?
Why are we not able to help Greece and Cyprus in a very meaningful way? And I’m not discounting the $4-5 mm that we send for philanthropic purposes.
Why can we not help Greece and Cyprus become global forces in the food industry when the Greek and Mediterranean diets are in everybody’s mind?
Why can we not help Greece become the premium destination in Cultural, Medical, Religious and fun tourism?
Why can we not help the young entrepreneurs with amazing technologies finance their start-ups and bring them to the World markets?
I can go on and on. But I know and I believe deep in my heart, that we can do all these things and do them well. We can do all these things if we first recognize that our “Achilles Heel” as a people is our desire to do things as individuals and sometimes do things collectively on a voluntary basis.
But this unfortunately never worked to our advantage. It will not help survive and thrive as Hellenes.
The Jews recognized this many years ago and decided that they would let professionals lead them in these community affairs. They donated and donate a lot of money to organize AJC, AIPAC, Jewish Federations and all sorts of institutions. Professional Institutions with thousands of paid employees. AJC alone has 2,500 employees with offices in 29 countries. Institutions which enabled them to become so strong as a community that can influence policies in Washington, locally and globally as well as in Israel.
Dear friends it’s very easy to say how much we love our community, Greece and Cyprus. We can sing our love for Greece from the four corners of the World. At some point though, the need for real and helpful actions become necessary. Theories and wishful thinking are not enough to correct our mistakes and non- involvement for the common good.
Three and half years ago I decided to help find HALC the Hellenic American Leadership Council.
A professional organization run by paid professionals to address some of our communities challenges.
In three short years with only 3-4 people on staff, few amazing members, young Greek professionals Doctors, Lawyers, Judges, entrepreneurs and people in Washington, with 55,000 followers on Face Book, we created one of the most effective Greek organizations in our country.
For the first time our community can send letters to the President with 35,000 signatures. Before the most was 800-1000. We created the Greek Israeli caucus in Congress, a great alliance to help us with the government. We have a great alliance with AJC a powerful organization, the Armenians, African American Organizations, with the Kurds. Alliances needed if you are a small community. We had events in Congress as to how to help Greece by sending spare parts to the Airforce and Navy and by sending medicine. Our members hold fundraisers in different states to raise funds and encourage our community to vote for politicians, something that gives access locally and nationally.
This past summer HALC , in just 50 hours matched a $50,000 challenge from the Jahari’s Foundation and then another $50,000 challenge for a total amount of $235,000 in two weeks going to SOS Greek Village to help few hundred orphans who stay there from the age of 2 -18 and after that help them go to college.
I do not believe that this could be done without the way HALC has been organized, without the dedication of our young and very successful members, the future leaders of our community.
Without the very meaningful help of our 55,000 followers. Thank you.
We can do it. We are the people who came here with nothing, but the desire to work very hard to get an education, earn money and do better in life.
We can do it, once we recognize that no matter how high we got in our business or profession we did not get there only by our own efforts and smarts but because we were able to step and stand on the shoulders of others. Our parents, our teachers, our friends, our village our Hellenic roots and values.
Knowing that then, it is our obligation to help, help in each and every way we can. Selflessly. None of us will take money with us. But believe me, the $10, $50, $10,000 whatever it is, helping our community create institutions and professional organizations is a worthy cause. This is the only way it can be done.
And we can do it.
We are the people that the whole world took our knowledge in science, philosophy, democratic values so they could advance. We are the people that although very few kept the Persian invaders out of Europe. We are the only people that along with Russia fought the Germans on our soil .Many praised us by saying Greeks do not fight like heroes but that heroes fight like Greeks.
We are the people who said OXI.
We are the people that although few in numbers we have many Noble Laureates. We are the people that when we come together we can achieve miracles.
Nothing is impossible. Everything is possible when we believe in it and work for it.
Η πατριδα θελει αγαπη . Μερικες φορες η αγαπη δεν αρκει να ειναι μονο ευχη . Η αγαπη xρειαζεται δουλεια πολλη . Και υπομονη και πεισμα και μεθοδικοτητα .
Ενας φιλος μου εστειλε αυτους τους στοιχους του Οδυσσεα Eλυτη,
Ενα το χελιδονη κι η ανοιξη ακριβη
για να γυριση ο ηλιος θελει δουλεια πολλη
Θελει νεκροι χιλιαδες να’ναι στους τροχους
Θελει κι οι ζωντανοι μας να διδουν το αιμα τους