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From left, former Supreme President Nicholas Karakostas, current Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas and US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis on the podium. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
ATHENS – Leaders of the Order of AHEPA in the United States and Canada joined their Ahepan brothers and sisters as well as the leaders of Greece’s Armed forces and government officials at the Divani Caravel Hotel in Central Athens for an award dinner celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Order of AHEPA in Atlanta, GA.
The hotel’s ballroom was packed to overflowing on November 15 – tables being also set up by the grand staircase – which was indicative of the importance attributed in Greece to the century of service offered by Ahepans for their local Hellenic communities and for Greece, Cyprus, and the Orthodox Church.
The highlights of the evening among a series of enthusiastic speeches filled with thanks and appreciation were the presentations of U.S. Ambassador to Greece George J. Tsunis, who was honored with the prestigious Pericles award for 2022, and AHEPA’s Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas. The Ambassador’s rousing speech emphasized the importance of unity in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also praised and acknowledged the sacrifices for the sake of their children and communities of his own and all immigrants parents. Kokotas offered a touching overview of the history of the Order and its relationship with the homeland, but the hundreds of guests were especially moved by his emphasis on the importance of the work of AHEPA and others with the youth of the diaspora communities and Greece, whom he called the future not only of the organization, but of the Hellenic Nation.
Vasilis Petkidis as Emcee graciously kept the long program moving, beginning with thrilling renditions of the national anthems by Anastasia Zannis – who is a proud Daughter of Penelope. Georgette Boulegeris, the Daughters’ Grand President then offered her greetings.
The 2022 Themistocles Award was posthumously given to Captain Vassilios Constakopoulos – of Costa Navarino resort fame – for his “contributions to Hellas,” while another highlight was the presentation of the 2022 Vanguard Award to the Hellenic Armed Forces – The Hellenic Army, Navy, and Airforce and the Cyprus National Guard. Representatives of each service addressed the guests and expressed their congratulations and appreciation to the Ahepans. The final speech was given by General Konstantinos Floros, Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, of whom it was said at the event that due to his service, Hellenes at home and abroad can sleep well at night. He in turn offered deep thanks to all Ahepans for their work and support, thoughts echoed by Deputy Minister of National Defense Nicholas G. Hardalias.
The Chotas Philanthropic Awards were presented to Andreas Papadakos, as well as to Marios Iliopoulos, founder of SeaJets, two individuals who greatly contributed to the success of the AHEPA Supreme Convention that was held in Athens for the first time in many years in 2021.
Thanos Plevris, the Greek Minister of Health, praised AHEPA not only for helping to build the well- known hospital facilities in Thessaloniki and Athens, but for contributing in many ways to the Greek national health system through the years.
Several speakers noted that the effort to make it easier for the Hellenes Abroad community to vote in Greece’s national elections continues.
Konstantinos Varsamis, the Governor of Greece – Hellas District 25 acknowledged the good work of AHEPA Greece officials and leaders, whom he invited to the stage to applause from the brothers and sisters. AHEPA’s Executive Director Basil Mossaides, also offered greetings.
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