NEW YORK. The Alexander the Great Awards ceremony was a moving event which spread the message of the importance of maintaining the Greek language and cultural heritage, as well as philanthropy and the attraction of the younger generation. The recipients of the Award were Dr. Spiro Spireas, founder, chairman and CEO of Sigmapharm Laboratories, an emerging specialty pharmaceutical company operating out of Bensalem, PA, the President of Pan Gregorian Enterprises of New Jersey George Siamboulis, and philhellene President of the New Jersey Senate Senator Stephen Sweeney.
The award ceremony took place on Sunday during the 6th Annual Awards Banquet of the Hellenic Federation of New Jersey at “The Graycliff” which is located at 122 Moonachie Ave, Moonachie, NJ.
Next Generation Initiative Advisory Board chairman Nikitas Tampakis mentioned the efforts on behalf of the Federation in order to approach the younger generation, and he pointed out that there are seven student unions active in the Federation which marched together united in the Greek Independence Day parade. He also noted that this year, for the first time, scholarships amounting to ten thousand dollars were awarded to Maria Xarhakis, Maria-Eleni Nikolaidou, Ilias Pappas and Andreas Savvas.
Head of the organizational committee Panos Stavrianidis referred to the visions of the founders of the Federation and stressed that they have achieved a great many things in seven years and that each year the presence of the organized Greek-American community of New Jersey is strengthened at the Fifth Avenue parade.
Consul General to Greece Konstantinos Koutras called upon the expatriates to observe a minute of silence for the victims of the Orlando Florida massacre. He then referred to the role of the Federation and the Greek-American community and noted that it is obligated to honor its roots and to promote the Greek language and religion which are the main components of the Greek character.
In reference to the honorees, he noted that two are businessmen and philanthropists who are gracious and humble and that they have undertaken significant initiatives for the Greek American community in America.
“The new generation should look up to these men as their role models,” Dr. Koutras stated while simultaneously congratulating President of the New Jersey Senate Senator Stephen Sweeney.
Philhellene U.S. Representative Frank Pallone was called to present Senator Sweeney’s difficult job and he stressed that he works hard to bridge the differences.
He also mentioned the contacts they had made the previous week in Washington DC on national issues and their meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.
President of the Hellenic Federation of New Jersey Savas Tsivicos expressed his satisfaction on the banquet attendance as well as gratitude for the sponsors of the event and noted that the proceeds will be contributed to the fund for the building purchase, to the Scholarship Fund, to the Metropolis camps, as well as the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York City.
Pan Gregorian president George Siamboulis noted that it has been seven years since the establishment of the Federation and that everyone struggles together to keep the flame of Hellenism and Orthodoxy burning.
Furthermore, he referred to the Pan Gregorian and stressed that the founding and success of the Pan Gregorian proves that “Greeks flourish when they are united.”
Senator Sweeney spoke about his relationship with the Greek-American community and his recent visit to the Metropolis of New Jersey, and pointed out that the community has offered so much to the state of New Jersey. In addition, he expressed his gratitude for the Alexander the Great Award and noted that it decorates his office.
Federation president Savas Tsivicos noted that they were honoured by the presence of the publisher-editor of the National Herald Antonis H. Diamataris and invited him to present the award to Dr. Spiros Spireas.
In reference to the National Herald, he pointed out that it is the only and largest Greek newspaper outside of Greece, and that it recently celebrated the 101st anniversary of its founding.
Dr. Spireas thanked the representatives of the Trenton community, the executives of Sigmapharm Laboratories as well as his wife, Dr. Amalia Spireas and his childen Sotiri and Mary, who shared his anxieties and sleepless nights when he took his first steps in creating his pharmaceutical company.
He also stressed that it is not only important to succeed, but also to share with the community and to support Greek education and the Church.
He spoke in awe of his late parents and pointed out the obligation of the expatriate community to honor the first generation of Greek immigrants who endured hardships and paved the way for the next generations to succeed.
He called upon the Greek-American community to continue their struggle for the language, the religion, the “filotimo” and all the elements which compose the Greek identity and that we must try to pass it on to the younger generations
Metropolitan Evangelos responded to Dr. Spireas’ appeal and pointed out the significance of passing on language, faith and cultural heritage. Addressing the younger generation, he stressed that instead of saying that they are of Greek descent, they should say that they are Greeks, second, third and fourth generation.
In regards to the awards, he mentioned that they are dedicated to Alexander the Great and reminded everyone of the obligation to fight for Macedonia to remain Greek.
Lastly, he called upon the Greek-Americans to request that the US government withdraw the recognition of FYROM with its constitutional name.