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20th Pan-Icarian Convention in Philadelphia Honors U.S. Senator Menendez

PHILADELPHIA – The Pan-Icarian Brotherhood of America’s 120th anniversary Supreme Convention was hosted by its Philadelphia Chapter ‘Atheras’ at the Sheraton Downtown hotel Labor Day weekend in historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thousands of people came to enjoy the weekend affair, including the famed dances. They came from all over the world to Philadelphia to enjoy this large ‘family reunion’ and to support charitable causes and Hellenism.

Distinguished U.S. Senator and noted Philhellene Robert Menendez was presented with The Spirit of Icaros award for his historic support in defense of Greece’s Aegean islands, including Ikaria, and their sovereignty. On his behalf, his son Congressman Rob Menendez of New Jersey’s Eighth Congressional District, accepted the award at the Grand Banquet. The Congressman gave a rousing speech noting that he too remains dedicated to a strong U.S.-Greece partnership – the speech was so moving the crowd gave a rousing ovation.

20th Pan Icarian Convention in Philadelphia (Photo Credit: Steve Lambrou)

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also sent a congratulatory address to the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood. He thanked the attendees for all they do for philanthropic causes both in the United States and in Greece and congratulated the evening’s honoree, Senator Menendez saying, “allow me to personally thank United States Senator Bob Menendez for all of his efforts given over a lifetime of public service to the Hellenic Republic and congratulate my dear friend and Philhellene on receipt of The Spirit of Icarus award this evening. You have made a wise choice in recognizing his efforts on behalf of all of us. I also wish to thank your Icarian Brotherhood Supreme President Cathy Pandelathis on her service in leading your organization for the past two years. The interaction between Greeks living in Greece and Greeks of the Diaspora is a source of huge dynamism.”

20th Pan Icarian Convention in Philadelphia (FB)

The Grand Banquet also featured addresses by Professor Ellene Tratras Contis, chair of the Pan-Icarian Foundation which is the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood’s significant charitable arm, as well as Pandeladis, the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood’s outgoing leading executive. They discussed many projects including offering almost a half million dollars in medical aid in Greece, to the island’s senior center. and scholarships both in the Americas and in Greece.

20th Pan Icarian Convention in Philadelphia (FB)

The full text of the virtual address of Senator Menendez’s follows:

Good evening, this is Bob Menendez, the senior Senator of New Jersey and Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It is an honor to speak to you today as you gather in Philadelphia for the 120th Annual Supreme Convention of the Pan-Icarian Brotherhood of America, the oldest Hellenic organization in the Western Hemisphere.

I want to thank the Brotherhood for all of the incredible work you do, furthering the friendship between Greece and the United States, keeping your traditions and heritage alive and helping spread Hellenic values across the country and beyond.

At a time of so much chaos and upheaval in the world, your efforts are critically important. Like many of you whose ancestors hail from the Greek island of IKARIA in the Aegean Sea, I am deeply concerned by the belligerence of [the] Turkish President.

We repeatedly have seen him challenge Greek sovereignty, sending fighter jets over the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. I am proud to have long been a leading voice, pushing back against Turkish aggression and a strong advocate for a close U.S.-Greek partnership.

In 2019, I authored the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, which established the framework for U.S. engagement in the region. In 2021, I authored the Greek Defence and Interparliamentary Act, which created the ‘3 plus 1’ format of Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and the United States. This year the group met for the first time and set a robust agenda on energy, security, maritime security, and economic growth.

We also made progress in military cooperation and integration between our nations. We got the restrictions on sales of American-made weapons to Cyprus lifted and Greece is poised to be the next recipient of a fleet of F-35s, furthering to strengthening our alliance which is critical to promoting the democratic ideals and values our nations share.

We still have work to do however, which is why this gathering of the Icarian Brotherhood is so important.
Through your youth groups and scholarships, medical aid, disaster relief, and other charitable causes you honor ancient Hellenic values. Pericles said, and I quote him:

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, But what is woven into the lives of others.”
Throughout history, Greek immigrants and Americans have helped to improve the lives of others and made our nations what they are today, through an enterprising spirit, creativity, and a thirst for knowledge and higher learning. Greek-Americans, like Cuban Americans, have overcome immense obstacles and hardships to obtain success here in the United States. So let us celebrate the achievements of Greek Americans in business, in law, in music and art.

Let us remember those who have served with honor in the American Armed Forces and those who fought for justice and civil rights.

Let us recommit to defending human rights and democracy, and the rule of law, from the Atlantic to the Aegean and beyond.

Efharisto.

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