BALTIMORE, MD – Following the announcement of the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes condolences soon began to pour in from across the United States and from Greece.
The first United States senator of Greek-American heritage, he frequently supported Greece and fought for the reunification of Cyprus, saying that the United States was unduly friendly to their antagonist, Turkey.
President-elect Joe Biden issued the following statement on the passing of former Senator Paul S. Sarbanes: “Paul Sarbanes and I served together on the Foreign Relations Committee for 30 years. There was no one sharper, more committed, or with firmer principles. And he, too, returned to his family nearly every night. They meant the world to him. Rest in Peace, Paul.”
Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis posted a tribute on social media and the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing the following statement on Dec. 7:
“It was with deep sadness that we were informed concerning the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, who was a prominent member of the Greek-American community for many decades.
“Paul Sarbanes, during his long service in the U.S. Congress, first as a Representative and later as a Senator, served his homeland valiantly and with self-sacrifice. At the same time, he championed major initiatives for promoting the values and positions of global Hellenism. Salient among the causes he championed was the imposition of a U.S. arms embargo on Turkey following the invasion of Cyprus.
“We express our deep condolences to his loved ones.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also posted on Twitter, “Senator Paul Sarbanes’s 40 years of tireless service, as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, strengthened our nation and made a difference in the lives of countless Americans.”
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Dec. 7 issued the following statement on the passing of Sarbanes:
“It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of former Senator Paul Sarbanes, a devoted public servant whose groundbreaking efforts continue to preserve and defend the wellbeing and interests of the United States today.
“I am fortunate enough to have served in Congress alongside Paul and to witness his deep and abiding belief in serving with purpose and pride. From his leadership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to his championing of major corporate oversight reforms, he leaves a legacy of dedication and commitment to our nation and to the people he proudly represented. Senator Sarbanes’ passion for honoring the culture, heritage and contributions of the Hellenic community will live on as an extraordinary example to follow.
“I extend my sincerest condolences to the Sarbanes family. My thoughts are with them and with the entire Hellenic community during this moment of great loss. Let us remember his life as a testament to what is possible and take it as a challenge to continue the many causes he championed.”
U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and founder and Co-Chair of the House Caucus on Hellenic Issues, said in her statement:
“Yesterday, our country lost an iconic legislator and leader. Senator Paul Sarbanes dedicated his career to bettering the lives of all Marylanders and Americans with his remarkable vision and consistent message of unity. I and so many others are lucky to have called Sen. Sarbanes a friend and colleague. He was a champion for Greece and Cyprus, and it was my honor to work with him to further the Greek-American relationship, as well as on financial services issues. The transformational Sarbanes-Oxley Act reshaped corporate oversight and has helped to protect hardworking Americans and prevent fraud for nearly two decades. The countless lives he shaped and the legislation he helped pass will undoubtedly be felt throughout our country for generations to come, especially as we begin the 117th Congress.”
New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said:
“Senator Paul Sarbanes will be sorely missed in our nation and especially within the Greek-American community. He was a true exemplar of honorable public service who stood up to powerful interests – drafting the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon and tackling corporate power after the fall of Enron. As the son of Greek immigrants, he knew that America is at its best when it is inclusive and welcoming of others. It was a privilege to know Senator Sarbanes and I extend my deepest condolences to Congressman John Sarbanes and the entire Sarbanes family.”
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) on Dec. 7 also issued a statement:
“The American Hellenic Institute deeply mourns the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said.
“Senator Sarbanes exemplified Hellenic ideals to the fullest extent. He excelled as a public servant, valued the importance of education, culture, and the arts, and was a true champion of the Rule of Law. These were values instilled in him as the son of Greek immigrants.
“Without Senator Sarbanes’ strong advocacy, and the respect he garnered during his service and a leader in Congress, the community’s effort to impose an arms embargo on Turkey, following Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, would not have been a success. Together with the late founder of AHI, Eugene T. Rossides, we were proud to work with then-Congressman Paul Sarbanes on this most substantial policy achievement. We will forever be grateful for his staunch and unwavering support for the Greek American community’s policy issues, especially during his tenure serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Senator Sarbanes will always be remembered fondly by the American Hellenic Institute and its members for his devotion to AHI, the Rule of Law, and to Hellenism for which we are deeply grateful and from which we all benefited. We were honored to present him with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award in 1992. He also keynoted and addressed several AHI forums, conferences, and events and contributed to AHI’s one-hour documentary, Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure.
“Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with Congressman John Sarbanes, who carries Senator Sarbanes’ legacy, and the entire Sarbanes family. May his memory be eternal.”
AHEPA Supreme President George G. Horiates issued a statement on the passing of Sarbanes, a recipient of the 1993 AHEPA Socrates Award and AHEPA Life Member:
“Ahepans mourn profoundly the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, a titan of the American Hellenic community who, as the son of Greek immigrants, learned the values of hard work and education from his parents and became a staunch defender of his heritage. He fulfilled the American Dream by dedicating his life selflessly to public service, including becoming Maryland’s first five-term U.S. senator; and to championing Hellenic ideals.
“As a member of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, Sarbanes’ strong advocacy for the policy priorities of the American Hellenic community included the enactment of the arms embargo on Turkey following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
“Our Order is forever grateful to Senator Sarbanes for passing a concurrent resolution in the 106th U.S. Congress that recognized and honored AHEPA members for their services in the U.S. Armed Forces and that acknowledged the presentation of the AHEPA Medal for Military Service to the community’s veterans.
“AHEPA is also honored and thankful that Senator Sarbanes commemorated the 75th anniversary of AHEPA with an entry into the Congressional Record of the 105th Congress of the late Past Supreme President James Scofield’s historically-important piece, Forgotten History: The Klan vs. Americans of Hellenic Heritage in an Era of Hate. The piece details AHEPA’s founding and educated a generation of Greek Americans about a little-known, yet critical, aspect of the community’s history.
“Senator Sarbanes was a constant presence at AHEPA Grand and Congressional Banquets for decades, sharing his wisdom and passion for Hellenic ideals that united all of us – education, civic duty, philanthropy. Ahepans especially shared with Brother Sarbanes an appreciation for the value of education and in meetings and gatherings he always took an interest in AHEPA’s educational and cultural programs, especially the Journey to Greece.
“Brother Sarbanes will be missed greatly. Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the Sarbanes Family. May his memory be eternal.”
In 1993, AHEPA presented Senator Sarbanes with the Order’s most distinguished award, The Socrates Award. In his acceptance speech, Senator Sarbanes quoted Classicist and Author Edith Hamilton’s observation on Greeks: “Freedom was a Greek discovery. The Greeks were the first free nation in the world. Greece rose because there was in the Greeks the greatest spirit that moves in humanity … the spirit that makes men free,” and he added, “it is the high standards of AHEPA which makes this Socratic Award a great honor which I receive with pride and gratitude and humility. But more importantly which I accept, in tribute and in honor of that courageous immigrant generation, my parents, who came to a new land to create opportunities for their children, in belief that if they gave them freedom, they would put it to good use.”