ATHENS – The enthusiasm, work, learning, and friend making continues at the 99th Anniversary AHEPA Supreme Convention in Athens Greece. The all-important networking component of the conventions also has an additional emotional element this year – it’s the first time in many months that some people have seen their AHEPA brothers and sisters due to the pandemic – and the first time they have been together in the Hellenic homeland.
With warm memories of the socializing and award ceremony of the AHEPA 99th Anniversary Event at the Greek War Museum the evening before, the Ahepans on July 27 awoke to a full slate of meetings and panel discussions while looking forward to what promises to be a most enjoyable AHEPA Greek Night at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on Athens’ southern coast on Tuesday night.
In the morning, parallel with general sessions for AHEPA and Daughter of Penelope internal business, there were special presentations on a variety of interesting topics. Dr. Peter Stavrianides, based on his extensive research and Greek-American community experience, spoke about ‘The Evolution of Greek America in the 20th Century and its Struggle for Survival.’ Andreas Zapounides spoke about exchange programs, Elias Pappas spoke on the Odyssey Charter Schools, and George Protopapas addressed the delegates about the philanthropic work of the S.O.S Children’s Villages.
The AHEPA Family Awards Luncheon, which was held Tuesday in the Ballroom of the Grande Bretagne, featured speeches by Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Hellenes Abroad Konstantinos Vlasis and Presidential Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus Photis Photiou, who were presented the AHEPA Public Service Award.
Dr. Peter Stavrianides spoke about ‘The Evolution of Greek America in the 20th Century and its Struggle for Survival.’ (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
Carl Hollister, Past Supreme President, warmly welcomed the guests and acknowledged the presence of officials of the AHEPA National Housing Corporation (ANHC), who were honored with the AHEPA Excellence in Leadership Award. “The mission of AHEPA National Housing Corporation (ANHC),” according to its web site, “is to provide affordable housing for the low-income elderly and disabled persons, and to insure that they receive the services designed to meet their physical and social needs.” Hollister declared the ANHC “the crown jewel of the Order of AHEPA.”
GREEK WAR MUSEUM AN INSPIRING VENUE
The most impressive social event so far is the AHEPA 99th Anniversary Event at the Greek War Museum. Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Chief of the National Hellenic Defense General Staff General Konstantinos Floros were the honorees, receiving the Periclean Award, AHEPA’s highest and most prestigious. Surrounded by the hardware of alliance – planes and weapons systems largely supplied by the United States – and the spirit of professionalism and dedication to shared values of Democracy and Freedom of Greece’s national security leadership that is at the heart of the U.S.-Greece, the Greek officials, echoed by U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, spoke of the remarkable recent strengthening of Greece-U.S. military cooperation. Each emphasized Greece’s bold efforts to strengthen its armed forces and the United States’ commitment to supporting her in every way.
U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
Guests at the Museum enjoyed a pleasant dinner in an inspiring settling, surrounded by special exhibitions dedicated to the Greek Bicentennial and the permanent collections of artifacts from throughout Hellenic military history.
Visitors were first welcomed in perfect Greek by AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaides, whose work and those of his team were acknowledged by Past Supreme President and current Chairman of the Board Nicholas Karakostas in a conversation with The National Herald. “It’s hard enough organizing events like this on the spot in the U.S. Imagine doing it 5000 miles away during a pandemic. They did a great job,” said Karacostas, who was also instrumental in the effort.
Daughters of Penelope leaders from Paris, Stuttgart, and Brussels, including AHEPA’s liaison for Europe Athanasia Vassiliadou (center), enjoy delightful company and fresh air on the patio of the Greek War Museum. (Photo: TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
The atrium of the Greek War Museum was a splendid setting for the AHEPA 99th Anniversary Event on July 26. Ahepans from all over the world interacted with the leaders of the Hellenic Armed Forces and enjoyed historic artwork like statues of Zeus and Pericles and modern Greeks like Pavlos Melas, hero of the struggle for Macedonia. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
Guests and media gathered in the courtyard of the Greek War Museum, surrounded by historic planes and weapons systems, for the Award Ceremony. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)