The news of Nikos Andriotis’ death deeply shook up the Greek-American Community and me personally. It was expected, as he had been seriously ill for some time. However, how can we accept that people like Andriotis, who are so essential, are no longer with us?
Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, whether he raised his voice or remained calm, Nikos stood out. What set him apart? Many things. From his genius to his eloquence – but eloquence not in empty words but in substance and content of exceptional quality. However, what distinguished him above all else was his devotion to the greatness of Hellenism. The dedication to maintaining the characteristics that make up our identity: Religion. History. Language.
And how are these achieved? With the vehicle for their preservation: the Greek school.
It is the example of Aitolos.
For decades, Nikos was the reference point of the Greek school he loved most of all: the first (and unfortunately the only) Greek high school in the United States. He was the person you could turn to for matters related to school and in general regarding the Cathedral of St. Demetrios of Astoria. He was its leader.
He was the priest without a cassock.
His influence, however, was not limited to Astoria – even if it were, that was enough – but it extended beyond there.
The St. Demetrios’ school, however, was the school with which he was most concerned.
He fought for its establishment despite the distrust with which the establishment of a school was regarded. Then he struggled for its construction. He then fought for its development. It was his life’s work.
He certainly didn’t do it alone. It wouldn’t have been possible for him to do it alone – including some whose contributions that may not have been sufficiently recognized yet, such as Demosthenes Triantafillou. But the dominant role was his
In a final moment of irony, Nisyros, his place of origin, a few days ago, and while he was in the hospital, declared him its Grand Benefactor
It wasn’t too late, even if he wasn’t able to comprehend it.
By the same logic – and much more – he should be declared a Grand Benefactor of Saint Demetrios. In his name, various events should be held every year on its premises. On the other hand, he was from and among the great financial benefactors of the Community.
The National Herald observed his activities closely and honored him at the gala event that marked the 100th anniversary of the newspaper’s establishment as one of the Community’s most active members….
We recommend that the Ecumenical Patriarchate honor him as well, as should, of course, the Archdiocese of America.
Greece, through the then-president of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, following my proposal during my tenure as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Greek Diaspora, received him in the Presidential Mansion and addressed him with the warmest words of gratitude for what he offered to the motherland.
The odyssey of life, of course, is not without adventures – we would never reach sweet Ithaca otherwise.
In any case, or almost in any case, there is no shortage of nihilists who look for justification for their own insignificance in the slander of their betters. Those who create. Those who contribute.
Historically they have never succeeded and never will achieve their goal. This is because their efforts contradict the facts, the truth. And the truth cannot be defeated.
Of course, no one is irreplaceable. Not even Nikos. He himself replaced someone else when he powerfully and definitively put the Community in the foreground of his life.
The passage, however, of these people, like Niko, Archbishop Iakovos and others, leaves such a void, as is now so clearly seen, that it requires a long time to fill up.
And when their passing takes place in difficult times for the Diaspora, such as the current one, it takes even longer. At such times, the void is even more extreme. As already shown, the absence of Nikos was strongly felt in the last years when he withdrew, for health reasons, from the Community of St. Demetrios.
Nikos, the friend, the pillar, passed away – but he will never be forgotten. He aimed at the key targets – and hit them. He has gone down in history – at least in the history of the Diaspora.
May your memory be eternal, dear friend Nikos.