NEW YORK – The special event space of the renowned New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue was filled to overflowing with guests who turned out on May 22 to honor The National Herald for its 100 years of service to the Greek-American Community, but the guests themselves, many of them descendants of the very first immigrants who arrived in New York and who stand at the top of every profession and area of endeavor, placed the celebration of the newspaper in the context of the community’s remarkable achievements and the history of the Hellenic Diaspora.
In his remarks that concluded the glittering gathering, Antonis H. Diamataris, the Publisher-Editor of TNH, thanked not only the newspapers’ staff and their predecessors for their contributions and members of his family for their love and support, but the 450 guests and by extension the millions they represent in America, the Diaspora as a whole and Greece for their support across four generations. He also praised the vision and achievement of Petros Tatanis, the founder of the newspaper that was first published on April 2, 1915, and the publishers who followed him.
Warm remarks of appreciation for the newspaper and those who labor to produce it were expressed by Archbishop Demetrios of America, who offered the invocation, Amb. Loucas Tsilas, who was the event’s Emcee, and honoree Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Sttavros Niarchos Foundation.
The evening began with a catered reception in the grand foyer of the library and after the guests were conducted to the arched and domed hall where the dinner was held, Grigoris Maninakis, lead singer and director of the Mikrokosmos Ensemble, joined by singer Alexandra Skendrou, entertained the guests throughout the evening.
The speaking program commenced with Archbishop Demetrios reading a laudatory letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Special letters were also sent by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and past presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
The honorees representing numerous fields of endeavor who received striking sculptures evocative of the cultural contributions of Hellenism through the ages in the form of little olive trees, included Dracopoulos, Dr. Evangelos Gizis, Rev. Dr. Demetrios Constantellos, Philip Christopher, Stella Kokolis, Nick Andriotis, Dr. George Kofinas, Dr. Spiros Spireas, and Nicholas Tsakanikas. Ted Spiropoulos, noted businessman, philanthropist and community leader was honored posthumously.
There were many moving moments. Retired Senator Paul Sarbanes summed up the contributions of TNH when he called the newspaper “the school of the community,” and Dracopoulos’ children delighted the guests when they read sections of his speech in flawless Greek.
Guests were most touched, however, by the moving tribute to her father by Vanessa Diamataris, who just completed her first year at Fordham Law School. She and her brother Eraklis, who also offered remarks, echoed the appreciation many Greek-Americans gain over time for the devotion to the timeless values of Hellenism and Orthodoxy that limited the time their parents could spend with them as chidren. She said, however, that she would not trade for anything her childhood filled with love and devotion from Diamataris and his wife Litsa.
Calling his wife the love of his life, Diamataris expressed his appreciation for her being at his side and a partner in all his endeavors. A designer, Litsa Diamataris helped shape the historic event that was enjoyed by all.