[The following is the text of the speech delivered by Ethnikos Kyrix-National Herald Publisher-Editor Antonis H. Diamataris on May 22 at Gala held at the main branch of the New York Public Library to celebrate the Herald’s 100th anniversary. Also included is are his comments in honoring 10 distinguished Greek-Americans the first of which, Theodore Spyropoulos, was honored posthumously. Andreas Dracopoulos spoke on behalf of all of the honorees.]
Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America,
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus
Guests of Honor of The National Herald
Friends who generously supported tonight’s event,
Presidents of Greek and Cypriot-American Associations,
Fellow Compatriots visiting from Greece,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to ask that you offer a warm round of applause from my dear friend Ambassador Lucas Tsilas, for his excellent performance of duties as tonight’s master of ceremonies. These past few years, the quality of cooperation we enjoyed was most impressive and I shall never forget it.
I thank everyone for their kind words.
I extend special thanks to my children, whose words touched me profoundly.
My dearest children, you cannot imagine how happy I am to share this moment with you.
I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to organize tonight’s celebration.
Many heartfelt thanks are due to those of you who came out from places as far off as Greece, California, Chicago and elsewhere, as well as those coming from places as nearby as Astoria to join us in celebrating this double historic anniversary of The National Herald and the Greek-American Community.
Tonight we celebrate a victory for Hellenism:
Not only because we attained prosperity in this blessed land,
not only because we did not forget the Greek language, faith, traditions, and culture, but moreover, because we have planted strong roots that allow us to look upon the future with optimism.
This is the underlying meaning of The National Herald’s 100th anniversary, and this is the message that the Greeks of America send forth to every direction.
We chose this temple of knowledge – the main branch of the New York Public Library – to celebrate our centennial because it is a fitting venue for The National Herald and because it is an honor for the Greek-American Community.
This library houses as a treasure the archives of our newspaper – the History of the Greeks of America.
Just six blocks further over, at 140 West 26th Street, The National Herald was first published on April 2nd, 1915.
I note with gratitude that The National Herald has been supported by four generations of Greek-Americans.
Above all, I relied on my family: the love of my life – my wife, and my beloved children.
I express my deepest gratitude to my ever-memorable father, my mother, and my sister, as well as to my wife’s parents.
I relied and continue to rely on my coworkers, many of whom have worked by my side for decades, honorably, conscientiously, and in a spirit of self-sacrifice.
At this point, I would like to gratefully commemorate the founder of The National Herald, Petros Tatanis, and his successors, as well as the thousands of associates who contributed to the newspaper since its inception.
Above all, however, I would like to express my gratitude to the readers of our newspaper, its subscribers from all across the United States – and now, its electronic subscribers from all over the world, its advertisers, and to the supporters of the newspaper who have made us an integral part of their lives and who offer us the moral support and means to continue our mission.
The destructive Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and the tragic economic conditions of that era forced hundreds of thousands of young Greeks to migrate to the United States.
A settlement was established here on these shores, but in order for it to survive, it needed to build families, find priests and teachers, and publish a newspaper.
The two newspapers that withstood the test of time longer than any others – from the time of their inception – were the royalist Atlantis, which was established in 1904 and folded in 1973, and the Venizelist National Herald, which continues along its historical path.
Perhaps it was the hand of God that led me to The National Herald from such a young age, because it was there that I discovered my destiny.
The path was not – and is not – an easy one.
Then again, no path is easy.
That is especially true for the path of a foreign language newspaper operating abroad.
It faces a constant struggle for survival.
And it demands the complete devotion of management and its staff.
However, it is worth the effort, because the cause is a noble one.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The fact that a Greek language newspaper has managed to survive here in America for a century is not only remarkable, but also astounding.
However, in order to explain this phenomenon, I must first answer two questions:
First: What is a newspaper?
And second: What does it mean to publish and manage a newspaper?
In response to the first question, lifeless paper is transformed into a newspaper only when it manages to gain credibility and the trust of its readers.
As for the second question, a good publisher acts as the representative of his readers.
Above all else, my associates and I bear the responsibility of gaining your trust each and every day.
Fulfilling the need for a credible mass medium that serves the Community is the Only way to safeguard the continuation of our newspaper.
One of the questions of our time is what will become of print newspapers:
My answer is that there will always be newspapers present in some form or another.
The revolutionary technological breakthroughs taking place affect only the manner in which news is disseminated, not the essence and need for credible information.
Digital technology creates serious problems for newspapers today, but at the same time, it offers opportunities of historic magnitude.
For example, it has enabled The National Herald to reach Greeks worldwide, which was impossible to fathom just a few decades ago.
I note here that our readership outside of the United States is already in the thousands.
The key is for our newspaper to remain the voice and conscience of its readers.
Today’s centennial anniversary represents a new beginning:
A starting point for an even better National Herald.
Tonight, I would like to assure you more than ever before, that The National Herald will continue on the path of constant improvement, that it will remain faithful to its mission in a spirit of love and gratitude toward it readers, and that it will always hold high the banner of Hellenism.
I want to conclude with a few verses from Greek-American poet Paul Nor (Nikos Nicolaides) – an associate of The National Herald – which serve as an ode to the Greek-American Community and a memorial for our predecessors.
“They will live as long as we shall, and we will honor their memory with love and sincerity.
“And if, perchance, their fame did not reach global or Pan-Hellenic proportions,
and there might never be a statue built in their honor and if they lived their lives without ambition, the fact that we shall never forget them will, for them, be a small taste of immortality…”
I thank you all very much.
THE HERALD’S HONOREES
Hellenic Education is a decisive issue for the future of the Greek-American Community.
Mr. Nikos Andriotis has contributed immensely to the perpetuation of Greek Paideia through the leading role he played in the establishment and success of the St. Demetrios High School in Astoria – the only Greek-American high school in America. His contribution is historic in its significance.
The Greek-American Community has fought and will always continue to fight for our national issues.
However, the name of the Greek-American that is identified with the struggle for our national issues is that of Philip Christopher.
Naturally, this is no coincidence:
For 41 years since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Mr. Philip Christopher has led the struggle for the liberation of Cyprus with commendable faith, dynamism, eloquence, and consistency.
He is a living testimony to the adage that “the Homeland is more valuable than one’s mother, father, and all their ancestors. It is the most venerable, the most sacred, and the greatest of all blessings.
Rev. Demetrios Constantelos
Everyone knows that our Church in America plays a decisive role. That is why it has been called the backbone that supports the entire Greek-American Community. Within this framework, the role of our priests is critical.
Protopresbyter/Professor Demetrios Constantelos serves as a sterling example of a Greek Orthodox priest who has served at various parish communities in the Archdiocese with exemplary zeal, maintaining the stature our Hellenic Christian faith, language, and tradition in a lofty place.
Furthermore, he has an extensive and seminal list of publications.
Dr. Evangelos Gizis
A newspaper’s raison d’être and source of strength are its readers.
We would have liked to honor all of our readers, but this is a practical impossibility.
We chose Professor Evangelos Gizis, a distinguished scholar and academic leader, who has graced the cover of the National Herald’s weekend insert, and who is a faithful reader who honors our newspaper and serves as a worthy representative of our readers.
We thank him and congratulate him.
Dr. George Kofinas
Our scientific community features many important scientists who have made us proud.
Dr. George Kofinas is ranked among the top doctors in his field, and through his knowledge and humaneness, he offers life, happiness, and joy to countless families.
At the same time, however, through his kindness and understanding, he eagerly and generously responds to the needs of the Greek-American Community and is included among our most prominent Greek-Americans.
The preservation of the Greek language is certainly an obligation that we all share.
Ms. Stella Kokolis has dedicated her life to this noble pursuit.
She has been striving for many years, like a modern-day Bouboulina – as the ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos nicknamed her – with knowledge, faith, and pathos for the preservation of our language.
She stands by the side of our teachers with love and dynamism from her position as President of the Hellenic-American Educators Federation.
We thank her and congratulate her.
Dr. Spiro Spireas
The National Herald honors Dr. Spiro Spireas with a double award for Philanthropy and serving as a Pillar of the Greek-American Community.
Philanthropy, which was first practiced in Greece, is one of the noblest human virtues.
Dr. Spireas, who is a prominent figure in the pharmaceutical industry, knows that he is but the administrator of the success with which his brilliance and God’s grace so generously provided him. That is why he engages in such extensive Philanthropic work.
At the same time, however, there are few individuals out there who can match his contribution to the preservation of our identity, thus proving himself to be an eager and generous pillar of the Greek-American Community.
It is people like Dr. Spireas who are the major difference makers in the Greek-American Community.
This past year, the Greek-American Community last one of its most important leaders.
It lost Theodore Spyropoulos, a Greek-American with a great and lengthy contribution to matters of language, education, and philanthropy.
The National Herald honors the memory of a beloved friend and we hope his example will illuminate and inspire many others to follow in his footsteps.
Our close ties with Greece and our frequent visits there are both a duty and an emotional need, as well as a necessary precondition for the survival of the Greek-American Community.
Mr. Nikos Tsakanikas improved the Greek travel sector
by offering pioneering travel services to the Greek-American Community and he represents the main portal of Greek tourism from the United States to the homeland.
In addition, allow me to say that Mr. Tsakanikas is one of my oldest friends in America and he was one of the first individuals who encouraged me and supported my work.
I thank him.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and its president Andreas Dracopoulos are worthy of the highest recognition and gratitude.
Mr. Dracopoulos is a true benefactor of Hellenism and is worthy in all things of the singular and highest honor being conferred to him by The National Herald.
Mr. Dracopoulos has gained admiration throughout the Greek-American Community, Worldwide Hellenism, and the international community not only for his actions, which are unique in today’s era, but also for his character and ethos, which serve as a paradigm and inspiration for us all.