NEW YORK – The four-day Pan Arcadian Federation of America 74th National Convention kicked off on November 15 with the presentation of the book The Arcadians of America – History and Offer by writer-researcher Petros Sarantakis, at the Vista Sky Lounge in Long Island City.
Although the unexpected intensity of snowfall prevented a few of the distinguished guests from attending, including His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and of the speakers Aris Michopoulos, the event was well-attended.
“I feel contentment, relief, joy, and excitement because, after seven and a half years of hard work by the Pan Arcadian Federation of America, a dream that began in March 2011 is finally being realized,” Sarantakis told The National Herald.
Among those present, were the Deputy Regional Governor of Arcadia, Evangelos Giannakouras, the Governor of the Pan Arcadian Hospital of Tripolis, Petros Tomaras, and the President of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America, Andreas Papantoniou.
The panel of contributors included the Artistic Director of the New York Greek Film Festival, Maria Tzombanaki, Saint John’s University Professor Christophor Tripoulas, and George D. Tselos, Supervisory Archivist and Head of Reference Services at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island since 1999.
The audience was welcomed by Mariangela Kefalas, while Dimitris Filios was the moderator, and introduced Giannakouras to address the meeting.
“It is lucky that the Pan Arcadians chose Petros Sarantakis to write this book. It refers to people who traveled to America under much tougher conditions, and the books help in remembering faces and events that have been recorded several years ago,” “said the Deputy Governor, while Pan Arcadian President Andreas Papantoniou praised the inspirers of the effort.
“We have to create our own history, which we will deliver as an inheritance to the next generations,” he said.
Taking the floor, Maria Tzombonaki spoke about her grandfather, who had immigrated 100 years ago from Chania to the USA, while praising the work of Mr. Sarantakis.
“It is very moving to find people like Petros Sarantakis not only for the Arcadians, but for all the Greeks, the immigrants who stay here, but also those who are in Greece,” she said, and then read the poem Argonauts.
For his part, George Tselos referred to the story of his father, who immigrated from his village in Arcadia at Christmas in 1915. He called Sarantakis’ book a “great work.”
“I welcome the inclusion of Petros Sarantakis’ book at Ellis Island. It is a great project because it has covered, both economically and socially, the reasons that prompted the Arcadians to immigrate, as well as their lives and their work in the U.S. and Greece. There are other books for other nationalities, but this is distinguished by the quality of research, photographic material, and the writing,” said Tselos.
Christopher Tripoulas, who edited the English translation, noted that “There are many Achievements by the Arcadians of America.”
“Happy is the one who knows History, because in History we interpret facts, situations, while we pre-empt and regulate the story that we ourselves write. Tonight something sacred is done. Tonight’s meeting is an extension of social work and social alliance,” Tripoulas concluded.
Finally, Sarantakis, after he thanked the expatriate Arcadians for their contribution to the effort, noted that the research was difficult because “memories are fading, generations go on, and names change.”
“The material is almost complete, but no such research is exhausted, since it involves many people for many lives. If, for example, it was 20-30 years ago, it would have witnessed immigrants from the first migratory period. If we were to wait ten more years, it would be a waste, because probably many of the second period would have died. We also studied 170 books, 24 different newspapers, and all the issues of Atlantis, from 1896 to the last.”
After the presentation, Sarantakis was presented with the Nikos Gatsos Award and also signed copies of the book for the attendees.