It seems like we are in the middle of a generational change in our Community in the U.S. – a time of transition.
It is as if the baton of leadership, of philanthropy, of comforting and other contributions, is passing from one generation to another.
The question, along with the accompanying fear, is whether the new generation is ready and able to receive it.
It is a question that every generation faces. And that, in the end, copes with successfully.
In recent days we have ‘lost’ two important Greek-Americans: Eugene Rossides, the sixth publisher – out of a total of eight – of the 105-year-old National Herald and founder of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI); and Euripides Kontos, the noble Cypriot patriot, founder of the big food company, Kontos Foods.
A few years ago we ‘lost’ Nicholas Bouras, Michael Jaharis, Nikos Mouyiaris, Professor Andre Gerolymatos (Canada), to mention some the most well-known.
But at the same time, and just as important, we are losing priests, teachers, local leaders, businessmen, and the major "blood donors" – those who infuse financial blood into our Community’s institutions, etc.
Every time someone ‘leaves’ we feel a gut punch both for ourselves, if we know them personally, and for their families – and for the void they leave in the life of the Community.
And the question is, what will we do without them?
Without a doubt, these people leave a significant void. And yet, in the historical course of the American Diaspora, as well as other countries with significant expatriate populations – i.e. Canada, Australia, South Africa, and European countries – the gap is always filled, sooner or later. Out of nowhere, as if by a miracle, people spring up to cover all or at least a large part of the void created by those who ‘left’ us.
And more and more authority and responsibility passes into the hands of Hellenes who are born in those countries.
That is what happens in countries where immigration from Greece and Cyprus was possible or desirable.
On the other hand, in countries such as Turkey or Egypt, as well as in the countries of the former Soviet Union, Hellenism is shrinking because it is not being replaced.
In any case, the death of these expatriates is a serious loss. On a personal and collective level.
And we, as a Community, must honor their memory in every way.
By honoring them, we honor ourselves.
For these reasons, the National Herald has established an annual Special Insert, dedicated to the memory of the expatriates and Diaspora-born who have ‘left.’
Ultimately, as I said, life itself takes care to fill the gaps they leave.
In those cases where we are lucky to have charismatic leaders, such as, for example, in the time of Archbishop Iakovos, and now with Archbishop Elpidophoros, it becomes easier to attract a new generation of leaders.