A historian once asked, “If it weren’t for Homer, who would know about Odysseus, Achilles and Agamemnon?”
As I read through a recent issue of the only Greek-American newspaper published continuously for the past 100 years, I asked myself a similar question: “If it weren’t for Ethnikos Kyrix-National Herald, how would I learn that two ethnic Greeks were among the winners of Academy Awards this year, that a Greek model once inspired the painter James McNeil Whistler, or that the architect who designed the stadium for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896 not only took part in the athletic events himself but actually came close to winning a medal?”
For a century now, the Herald has kept Greek-Americans informed and enlightened about the two worlds that command their interest and shape their lives – Greece and the United States. It has explained to us how international events affect our homeland, Greece; how national trends in the United States impact on our livelihoods; how our compatriots from Epiros, Crete, Macedonia, the Peloponnesus and the Aegean Islands maintain their regional traditions in the American melting pot, and how Greek-Americans have come to play increasingly important roles in the arts, sports, politics, medicine, law, business, education and philanthropy.
Most important, the Herald has chronicled the journey we have shared as Greek-Americans in our newfound land: from the heartbreaking struggles of the early immigrants who were called “the scum of Europe” and “ignorant, depraved and brutal foreigners” to the accomplishments of their sons and daughters who have achieved the highest level of education of any ethnic group in the country and the second highest per capita income.
For anyone interested in the history of Greeks in America, the Herald is also a great resource. When I was researching my book, A Place for Us, it was the Herald archives that I explored to find out what life was like for my father during his early years in the United States and what was going on in Greek communities when I arrived here as a nine-year-old refugee from the Greek Civil War in 1949.
For a generation now, Ethnikos Kyrix-National Herald has been under the astute direction of its editor and publisher Antonis Diamataris, whose Greek language daily is as good as any paper published in Greece, whose English language weekly – The National Herald (TNH) – is one of the best ethnic newspapers published in the United States, and whose online edition is the best source for news about Greeks and Greek-Americans available on the internet.
Maintaining the high quality of the paper and keeping it relevant is no easy task in these days of plummeting ad revenues and declining circulations that have crippled even renowned newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Mr. Dimataris, however, continues to deliver a superior product day after day, week after week, and he and his staff deserve praise, appreciation and support from everyone in the Greek-American community.