The 8th Annual Oxi Courage Awards Inspire & Showcase the Best of Humanity

Laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetary’s Tomb of the Unknowns in tribute to those who lost their lives in WWII. (Photo by Bill Petros)

WASHINGTON, DC – The Washington Oxi Day Foundation again featured #OXIcourage, past and present, before top U.S. policymakers from the White House and State Department, and thought leaders from think tanks and the media. On October 25, at the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Foundation honored modern day fighters for freedom and democracy who exhibit the David vs. Goliath courage of the Greeks in World War II.

The prestigious Oxi Courage Award was presented to twice-poisoned Russian democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza and Chinese poet Liu Xia, the widow of China’s greatest dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xaibo. The Chairman of the national Holocaust Museum Board, Howard Lorber, received the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award which highlights the courage of the Greeks during the Holocaust.

Mike Manatos, Executive Director of the Foundation, told The National Herald, “We are humbled and inspired by the Oxi courage of our honorees again this year. Like the Greeks in World War II and throughout time have proven, and as our honorees continue to prove today, as Vladimir Kara-Murza said that night, ‘moral courage can be stronger than military might.’”

Washington Oxi Day Foundation President and Founder Andy Manatos. Photo by Bill Petros

Previous recipients of the Oxi Courage Award award include:

  • 2017: North Korean defector and human rights activist Ji Seong-ho – who 3 months later was featured by the President of the United States in the State of the Union address.
  • 2016: Vice President Joe Biden and son Beau Biden (posthumously).
  • 2016: Escaped ISIS sex slave and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nadia Murad (nominated by Amal Clooney).
  • 2015: Imprisoned Azerbaijani activist Leyla Yunus (nominated and introduced by Bono) – who weeks later was freed from jail.
  • 2014: Journalist James Foley, just weeks after becoming the first American executed by ISIS. (President Bill Clinton introduced Foley and Jim’s parents accepted the award).

 

Earlier in the day, at the National World War II Memorial, the Oxi Day Foundation honored three remarkable WWII veterans – a Greek, a Greek-American, and an American – alongside Korean War veteran Michael Johnson who received the prestigious 2018 Michael Jaharis Service Award, for his service in the war and continued service to the Greek-American community.

The WWII veterans honored were: 101 year old American veteran nominated by Senator Bob Dole (who previously received this award), Celestino Almeda; 97 year old Greek veteran who fought alongside U.S. troops in the historic D-Day battle, Rear Admiral Theodoros Lymberakis; and (posthumously) Greek-American member of the remarkable OSS (the pre-cursor to the CIA), Alexander Georgiades.

About the Honorees

Vladimir Kara-Murza is vice chairman of the Open Russia movement and chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom. He was a longtime colleague of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Kara-Murza is a former deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party and was a candidate for the Russian State Duma. He has testified on Russian affairs before parliaments in Europe and North America and played a key role in the passage of the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that imposed targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators.

Photini Tomai and Peter Georgiades, son of the Greatest Generation Award recipient, Alexander Georgiades. Photo by Bill Petros

Twice, in 2015 and 2017, he was poisoned with an unknown substance and left in a coma; the attempts on his life were widely viewed as politically motivated. Kara-Murza writes regular commentary for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, World Affairs, and other periodicals, and has previously worked as a journalist for Russian broadcast and print media, including Ekho Moskvy and Kommersant.Kara-Murza is a recipient of the Magnitsky Human Rights Award, the Sakharov Prize for Journalism as an Act of Conscience and the Geneva Summit Courage Award. He holds an MA (Cantab.) in History from Cambridge. He is married, with three children.

Liu Xia was placed under police surveillance in 2010, the same year her husband, Liu Xiabo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for what the committee called “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental rights in China.” Liu Xiabo was not allowed to go to Oslo to receive the prize; Liu Xia was also barred from attending the ceremony.

Liu Xiabo, who was detained in 2008 after promoting a pro-democracy charter, died of liver cancer at age 61 while serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Liu Xia was restricted to her Beijing apartment, where she was kept virtually incommunicado and under heavy surveillance, occasionally allowed to leave for short trips or receive visitors, but denied a passport. She battled severe depression and threatened to kill herself earlier this year.

Jaharis Service Award recipient Michael Johnson with Jaharis Family Foundation Executive Director Peggy Sotirhos-Nicholson. Photo by Bill Petros

Howard M. Lorber is the Chairman of Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms with approximately $26.9 billion in annual sales volume and approximately 7,000 affiliated real estate agents. In 2017, Lorber received a Presidential appointment to serve as Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He also serves on the board of the 92nd Street Y, on the board of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, as Chairman of Southampton Hospital Foundation, and as Co-Chairman of the Silver Shield Foundation—a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance towards the educational costs of children of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

During WWII, Celestino Almeda served in the Anti-Sabotage Unit of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East from December 1941 to January 1942 and then as a Filipino guerilla from May 1942 to April 1945.Along with American troops, he fought hard against the Japanese.Almeda was born in the Philippines but was naturalized and became a U.S. citizen in 1996. More than 70 years after the war, he continues to fight another longtime battle of his life: recognition from the U.S. government for his military service.Almeda was among those recognized on October 25, 2017 at Emancipation Hall in the United States Capitol with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. He accepted the first Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal from House Speaker Paul Ryan and spoke on behalf of thousands of his comrades and their families.

The son of a Hellenic Coast Guard Officer, Theodoros Lymberakis entered the Hellenic Naval Academy in 1938 and, due to the ongoing war, graduated in 1940 with the rank of Warrant Officer. He served onboard Battleship HS Averof and in April of 1941, he was transferred to the Destroyer HS Hydra.After a German air assault resulted in the sinking of HS Hydra, he could not follow the Fleet departure to the Middle East in April 1941. However, he was fortunate enough to do so in November 1941. During his stay in the Middle East, he finished his Academy education and training onboard HS Averof and served onboard the Destroyers HS Kountouriotis,HS Kanaris, HS Spetsai, and the Corvette HS Tombazis. He participated in a variety of operations in India and in the Mediterranean Sea,and in convoys including Operation Overlord, the famed Normandy invasion on D-Day in 1944. For his action during WWII, Lymberakis was awarded the Exceptional Actions Medal and the Military Cross 3rd Class. France awarded him the title Member of the Legion d’Honneur. After the war, he served as Commanding Officer onboard various ships, as Director of Academic Issues at the Hellenic Naval Academy, as staff officer at the Hellenic Fleet Headquarters and NATO Commands and as Naval Attache in Rome, Italy. He retired with the rank of Rear Admiral in 1969.

Greek Naval Attaché Captain Charalambos Pegklidis and Greek Defense Attaché Colonel Vasileios Lampropoulos with the Greatest Generation Award. Photo by Bill Petros

During WWII, Alexander Martin Georgiades joined the American army and was recruited into the American intelligence service, namely the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).Georgiades never hesitated to take on extraordinary missions, occasionally even risking his own life in duty towards “both homelands,” Greece and America.Born in Othos, on the isle of Karpathos, Alexander Martin Georgiades immigrated to America as a teenager, where he eventually studied electrical engineering at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Technical Institute (now Carnegie-Mellon University). He became an officially naturalized American citizen in 1940. Georgiades was a founding member of the Karpathian Educational and Progressive Association of America (KEPA), and member of AHEPA since its foundation.

Michael S. Johnson was born in Maryville, Missouri in 1926. His father immigrated to America at age 14 in 1903. Johnson graduated from The Ohio State University in 1949 with a BA and MSc in Geology. He was drafted in the Korean War and served from September 1950 to December 1952.He enjoyed a successful career in the oil and gas business. His exploration efforts over the past 57 years include over 10 oil discoveries spanning the entire Rocky Mountain Region, as well as projects in Greece, Italy, Guatemala, Panama, and Canada. For the past 60 years, Johnson has been an active supporter of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in the U.S. He is a member of FAITH, serves on the board of trustees for Leadership 100, and served for over 20 years on the Archdiocesan Council (where he first met Michael Jaharis). He has been a member of the Order of Saint Andrew since 1980 and is a major financial supporter of the Archdiocese, among several other causes. Johnson presently lives in Denverwith his wife of 59 years. They have two children, Alicia and Mark, and two grandchildren.

More information about the Washington Oxi Day Foundation is available online: oxidayfoundation.org.

World War II veterans George Possas and Celestino Almeda at the National WWII Memorial ceremony. Photo by Bill Petros
Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award recipient Howard Lorber with the Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Haris Lalacos. Photo by Bill Petros
Liu Xia appearing by video at the October 25 gala. Photo by Bill Petros
Oxi Courage Award recipient Liu Xia and presenters Jim Chanos, Ted Bozonelis, Andy Manatos, and Mike Manatos. Photo by Bill Petros
Oxi Courage Award recipient Vladimir Kara-Murza and presenter Michael Psaros. Photo by Bill Petros

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