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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, center, was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a gift at the reception in her honor, with her daughter Virginia, second from left, flanked by Marina Belessis Casoria, at left, and Lou Katsos, at right. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was honored by members of the Greek-American community at an event organized by Louis Katsos, founder and president of the East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA), and held at the Russian Tea Room in Midtown Manhattan on November 3.
Katsos gave the welcoming remarks, highlighting Rep. Maloney’s many years of service to the community and her extraordinary career in Congress, including sponsoring the most bills such as The James Zadroga 9/11 Health Care and Compensation Act, her bill to provide health care and compensation for 9/11 first responders, residents and workers near Ground Zero. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was permanently extended with the passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act in summer 2019.
Maloney’s efforts have brought billions of dollars to New York City for important infrastructure improvements such as the Second Avenue Subway and the East Side Access project, creating jobs in New York State. Katsos also pointed out that Maloney, co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, was also a member of EMBCA’s American Hellenic Revolution Bicentennial Celebration Committee, which showcased the longstanding relationship between the United States and Greece. He also noted that her friends in the Hellenic community bestowed upon her the nickname “Bouboulina” after Laskarina Bouboulina, one of the great heroines of the Greek War of Independence.
First elected to Congress in 1992, Maloney has extensive accomplishments on financial services, national security, the economy, and women’s issues. She is currently Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and former Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, the first woman to hold both of these positions.
Katsos said that “we are happy for this opportunity to thank her for being a champion of shared Hellenic and American values- freedom, democracy, human rights, rule of law, and religious freedom- we expect to continue to work together with her… as there is much more work to be done and together we will write the next chapter with her in her book of achievements in American leadership.”
“Philotimo is a Hellenic word that comes to mind when thinking about the Congresswoman,” Katsos continued. “Its etymology comes from the word ‘philo’- an aspect of love, and ‘timos’- which means honor, it is best translated as love of honor which means showing respect, appreciation, and having the honor and respect for those that are worthy. ‘AXIA’ is another word that comes to mind for the worthiness of an individual, in particular, our congresswoman. Her philotimo requires we give tribute to honor her who is more than worthy of our respect, admiration, and love. Join me in repeating- ‘AXIA’, ‘AXIA’, ‘AXIA’- to thank our beloved Bouboulina, Congresswoman Maloney.”
Katsos then introduced Costas Tsourakis to perform the National Anthems of Greece and the United States.
Maloney then thanked everyone present and spoke about connecting with the Hellenic community during her first campaign for Congress in 1992. She noted that “one of the first things I did when I went to Congress was found the Hellenic Caucus, I wanted to pay back the Greek community, and one day I went to work and there were five members of the Greek Parliament in my office protesting what Turkey was doing in America with votes that were harmful to Greece and we would fight and get all the votes together in a bipartisan way to defeat it and I said… we got to get organized, so I went to [then-Archbishop] Iakovos for his spiritual leadership, he blessed the idea, he liked the idea.”
The controversy over the island of Imia was going on at that time. Maloney said, “and it was just some outrageous act every day and I now want to say that the Hellenic Caucus is the second largest Caucus in Congress, preceeded only by the Human Rights Caucus, and I’m very, very proud that they have not passed one anti-Greek issue, they don’t even go to the floor anymore, because we have the votes in our Caucus to defeat their actions.”
Maloney pointed out the recent win with the defense budget that no money should go for any F-16s for Turkey, and any money that does go to Turkey for defense, since it is still considered an ally of the U.S., “cannot be used against Greece or Greek borders or Greek areas.”
She noted that “Macedonia is Greek” and that the fight is ongoing for justice for Cyprus. She spoke about her recent visit to Greece where she was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Patras and met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, calling him a “forward-looking leader for Greece.”
Maloney said that she was pleased to invite Mitsotakis who was the only foreign dignitary to appear before Congress in person this year where “he had so many standing ovations from both sides of the aisle, it was really inspiring. He gave a brilliant speech.”
She also spoke about the return of the Parthenon marbles, mentioning her recent visit that inspired her to put in a bill for the return of the Parthenon marbles. “You see with your own eyes and in the research from these scholars, it will make you sick to your stomach, they went with saws and hatchets and took the marbles off this sacred [building], it is considered one of the Wonders of the World and it shows how they destroyed it basically, removing them from it, so I’m not going to stop until they’re returned to their rightful owners.”
“We’re making progress,” Maloney said, adding that “I think we should put in a resolution in every country in the world that the Parthenon marbles belong to Greece and should be returned, because Western culture owes a debt of gratitude to Greek culture that we can never fully repay. Each time the reins of government peacefully change hands, anywhere in the west, we should be profoundly grateful to the Greeks for their invention of democracy, and each time you go to the theatre or thrill to Olympic competition, we have the ancient Greeks to thank.”
The Parthenon marbles “were created by Greek people, they are Greek treasures… they belong to the Greek people, and I’m not going to stop until I get them home to Greece and I have a pretty good record of getting things done,” Maloney concluded.
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros was among those present, along with Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Chancellor Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, presiding priest of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas and his wife, Presvytera Anthoula, Andrea Catsimatidis, Marina Belessis Casoria, AHEPA Supreme Regional Governor Ted Stamas, Delphi Chapter President Theodore Klingos, Jeannie Kouros, and Virginia Maloney, the congresswoman’s daughter.
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