I am blessed to be a part of a community that boasts some of the most successful people in America, leaders in every profession and field of endeavor. We are also proud to have some of the highest levels of education and success of any ethnic group. Both make working at The National Herald a responsibility and a privilege.
Our success is due to numerous things, including the dedication of our culture to education that we share with our Armenian and Jewish friends, and the devotion to family that we have in common with other minorities. But there is an additional element fueling our individual success and that makes us a strong community: our rich Greek heritage, filled with stories of struggle and triumph and heroes and heroines that we aspire to match. But there is also a word, one simple word standing for a complex concept: philotimo. It is more than “love of honor” because every ethnic group has that. Our concept is enriched because Greek history provides us with a long list of memorable self-sacrificing heroes on the ethnic front, and saintly people on the spiritual. Even before Christianity there was Alcestis and Antigone and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.
But I believe Hellenes have a unique sense of standing alone not just before God, but also the entire Hellenic nation preceding us. We want to do good whether or not someone is watching here and now, not because we are a nation of saints, but because we are a nation of memory.
And that for two reasons: we have so many heroes and saints, men and women of valiant action and bold thinking over 4000 years of history, but also of great artists, from Homer to Phidias to Kazantzakis, and including anonymous lyricists and iconographers, who bring them to life in our souls.
So it is before them that we stand and deliver.
I also believe Diaspora Greeks feel a strong compulsion to give back – maybe because the struggles and sacrifices of immigrant parents were vital to the success of the successive generations.
For us, “giving back” is not a quaint phrase to utter when they give us awards – real heroes don’t need metal or wooden awards – it is a deeply felt obligation. So from the moment I began to work as a journalist – a new career for me – on April 21, 2009 – I felt grateful to my publisher, Antonis H. Diamataris, for not only an opportunity to make a contribution to my community by helping to build its historical record, the history of a great community and its people, but the chance also to meet and interview and become friends with many remarkable Hellenes on both sides of the Atlantic. And, of course, to work with gifted colleagues whom I now count among my nearest and dearest friends, no matter how far away I am from some of them now that I live in Greece.