Greek-American Community Helps Obama Launch 2nd Term

WASHINGTON, DC – Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden topped the list of Washington notables who attended a reception on January 20 in honor of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and in recognition of the extraordinary public service of Jim Chanos, Dennis Mehiel, and George Tsunis.
The reception on the eve of the 57th Inauguration of the President and Vice President of the United States took place just blocks from the White House. The three men also distinguished themselves through their significant support for the Obama-Biden reelection campaign.
The event was organized and hosted by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation whose President, Andrew Manatos, introduced the dignitaries and honorees, Greek-American leaders who were presented the Medal of St. Paul, the highest honor that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America bestows. The awards were presented by Archbishop Demetrios.
Among the guests were former Speaker and current House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and other top U.S. officials.
Demetrios was very visible during the 2013 Inauguration. During the public swearing-in ceremony on Monday, January 21, he sat on the platform from which the president spoke along with the Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Members of Congress, and Cabinet officials.
Demetrios then delivered the benediction at the highly select Presidential Inaugural Luncheon in the U.S. Capitol Building, to which many Senators and House Members are not even invited. On January 22 he was one of the few clergy offering a prayer during the Presidential Ecumenical Prayer Service at the National Cathedral.
Other top U.S. officials attending Monday night event included a number of top Senators and House Members including the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, Vice-Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Joe Crowley, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congresswomen Anna Eschoo and Niki Tsongas, and former Congressman Zack Space, among others. Several members of the Biden Family and staff also attended including the Vice Presidents sister, Valerie.
{57713}Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, told TNH that Biden declared that the honorees reflect the best of the Greek-American community adding “they are his friends and he knows they are people of the Church and he appreciates the support the Community has given him and the President. He singled out Chanos, Tsunis, and Mehiel and expressed his gratitude for what they did in the election campaign.”
He believes the concerns and interests of the Community will be of “paramount importance to the President and Vice President. We owe that to the leadership of Archbishop Demetrios and the extraordinary lay leaders of our community.”
Karloutsos said that was very clear on Sunday night, when Biden called Greek-Americans “the most loyal of all communities, that he appreciates their friendship, and he considers himself one of our own,” Karloutsos said.
Nick Larigakis, the President of the American Hellenic Institute told TNH “it was a wonderful affair. The Vice President took the time to be with us, underscoring what we hope is his continued commitment to our Community. He knows our issues very well and we hope he will help move them forward.”
He added “it is always great to honor the accomplishments of Greek-Americans. The caliber of the talent in the community is well known. We know what they do within the community, and with their success in mainstream America, they make us very proud.”
Officials from previous Bush and Clinton Administrations also attended, including former U.S. Ambassadors to Greece and Cyprus, respectively, Daniel Speckhard and Don Bandler, and former chief speechwriter for President Clinton, Paul Glastris, among others.
Ambassadors to the United States from Greece and Cyprus, respectively, Christos Panagopoulos and Pavlos Anastasiades, joined numerous national leaders of the Greek-American community.
Also in attendance were those Greek-American leaders honored with the Medal of St. Paul at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis and former Chicago State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.