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Politics

Five Prominent American Hellenes Featured on Greek Postage Stamps

September 7, 2016

ATHENS – John Catsimatidis, Dr. Peter Diamandis, Costa-Gavras, George Stephanopoulos, and Rita Wilson were honored with their likeness depicted on a Greek postage stamp.

The presentation of the commemorative stamps of the five distinguished Greeks living abroad took place during a glamorous event held in the Auditorium of the Acropolis Museum, followed by an award ceremony of the International Foundation for Greece (IFG), which had proposed the commemorative series to the Greek postal service (ELTA).

Catsimatidis, Diamandis, and Gavras attended the event live, while Stephanopoulos and Wilson sent their greetings via video.

IFG Founder and President Aspasia Leventis opened the event and the first stamp presented was that of Science award winner Diamandis, an engineer, physician and entrepreneur who is best known as the Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation.

“I collected stamps as a child, both in the United States and in Greece, and I would go to the Post Office to buy stamps which I have in my collection,” noted Diamandis, who attended the event with his wife, children, mother, sister and cousins, noting the value of the award. He dedicated the stamp to his father, who recently passed away.

Next was the stamp of Catsimatidis, who began by mentioning that he came from the Greek island of Nisyros to the United States when he was six months old.

“I cannot be a candidate for the U.S. presidency because my father was late in taking me there by six months,” joked the recipient of the Entrepreneurship Award. He dedicated the award to his parents and grandparents.

Catsimatidis was accompanied by his wife and two children. “People ask me if I’m successful. Yes, I am successful because I have two children who were born in the United States but love Greece. This is my success,” he said.

“When I received the proposal by email I was a little surprised because I thought that stamps were only made for dead people,” director Costa-Gavras, recipient of the Arts and Letters award, mentioned with a fair share of humor.

“Stamps allowed me to travel to places that I had no idea existed,” Gavras noted, and continued by saying that “it is time to show that we as Greeks have a significant presence all around the world.”

Wilson, winner of the award for Film & Theatre, said she may not have a name that sounds Greek but she has a Greek heart, while the ABC News Chief Anchor Stephanopoulos concluded his message with the phrase “Zito i Ellada” (Long Live Greece).

In the ensuing discussion, Catsimatidis’ reference to the difficulty with which one can do business in Greece was particularly interesting.

He made mention to the “brain drain” that has afflicted Greece by referring to his friend and former basketball player and coach Steve Giatzoglou, who was in the room: “Steve is the only Greek-American I know who has returned from America to Greece.”

Catsimatidis referred to the government’s decision to limit television licenses as a “mistake,” and Gavras added that “it is the government’s responsibility to keep a check on the media which speaks directly to the people.”

After the interview, the honored guests visited the Acropolis Post Office to mail postcards with their stamps all over the world.

Adding humor to the occasion, Gavras bought a page of his stamp “to send a letter to you to the United States,” he told fellow honoree Diamandis, who in turn bought a page of his own stamp.

(ACHILLEAS KOURMENOS)

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