On April 2, 1915, just 85 years after the founding of the Greek state, the area on 26th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue, on the west side of Manhattan, was full of expatriates.
They waited impatiently, for hours, to see the front page of the new newspaper with the ambitious and visionary name ‘National Herald’ that would be printed on its privately owned printing press. And they erupted in enthusiastic cries when the distribution of the first newspapers began. It was indeed an impressive – in every way – edition.
Petros Tatanis, the successful young merchant and publisher of the newspaper, together with his team, watched the enthusiastic reception from the crowd with joy. It was the first clear message that he would succeed.
The first edition of the new newspaper was published with the headline: Venizelos’ Interview with the National Herald – He Would Make Greece Equal to Italy.
He made it clear from the first moment, in this way, that the new newspaper would support the besieged Ethnarch Eleftherios Venizelos. And he kept that line faithfully until the end.
But it was beyond the imagination of Tatanis or anyone else, that it was possible for his newspaper to still be ‘alive’ 106 years later.
Not only was it impossible to imagine that it would survive for more than a century, but it was even more difficult to envision that 106 years later the newspaper would reach its current level and distribution across America, that it would be one of the most authoritative newspapers of Hellenism, with a weekly English edition and corresponding websites that now make the National Herald more accessible internationally.
I have been tormented for a long time by how to properly honor and do justice to an organization that celebrates 106 years of existence in a written commentary. I’m still unsure of how to do it - even though I have dedicated my entire professional life to its service.
It is really a very difficult task. But I have to try.
I will focus on the reasons that made this phenomenon possible. In other words, how a Greek-language newspaper, based in New York, came to celebrate the 106th anniversary of its founding.
There are three main reasons that contributed to the achievement of this historical phenomenon:
First, the characteristics of the readers.
Second, the characteristics of those responsible for managing the newspaper.
And, thirdly, the adaptation of its managers to the technological changes of each era.
Our readers find in ‘Ethnikos Kirikas’ the journalistic instrument that expresses their identities and concerns. They find that their newspaper has stood, for the most part, all these decades, on the right side of history. They know that their newspaper fought, with faith and dynamism, for the interests of the motherland, and also expressed its love and gratitude towards our second homeland, America. And they know that their newspaper continues to fight energetically and with reverence, for our Greek Orthodox religion and for the preservation of the Greekness of the Greek Diaspora, with emphasis on the preservation of our language.
Our readers hold high the banner of the National Herald.
They are our stalwarts. I will cite a very recent example: their support for the rich, multi-page special edition we printed to celebrate the Greek Bicentennial, the 200 years since the beginning of the Greek Revolution. They are the ones, like Archon Michael Psaros and his family - who were the generous sponsors of both special inserts and many humble, proud expatriates and American-born Hellenes with their small family businesses, whose hearts and souls throb for Hellenism, who believe in the need to support the work of the National Herald and to express their ethnic feelings in that way.
They are the ones who, through their subscriptions and their advertisements in our daily, weekly and in our special editions, support the National Herald.
And these people, the patriots, the Christians, the Greeks, will never be forgotten, because their presence is forever manifested in the pages of the National Herald, in our archives and on the internet.
And it is with their support, small or large, that they enable the newspaper to be independent, which acts as a multiplier of its prestige and significance.
As for the second point, the contributions of the writers and the editors, and all of the other support staff, they did not see – and do not see – the National Herald as a typical newspaper. As just a business. As merely a way of earning a living.
They look at the National Herald with awe. As a noble idea. A mission. And this can be seen in the fruits of their work.
And, thirdly, from the first day of its publication, the National Herald proved its ability to adapt to new technologies and the realities of each era. In 1915, it introduced the use of the telegraph – a revolutionary technology for the time – for the transmission of news.
Adaptation is a necessary tenet that makes the newspaper stay relevant to the reader and his/her needs.
In the 106 years that have passed since that morning of April 2, the world of our readers has changed many times. But the National Herald also changed with it.
Today, as we go through a new revolutionary period in terms of technology, the National Herald has again fully adapted to the requirements of the time and with its websites has raised the flag of Hellenes Abroad all over the world.
It is for these reasons, along with the fact that a new generation of publishers and their associates are taking on the responsibility of managing the publication, that makes us look with optimism and faith at the future of the National Herald. As we spread our wings more and more, we will continue offering valid and objective information to the Greeks in every corner of the Earth.
There are no words to express our gratitude to all of you, our readers, subscribers, advertisers, and sponsors who make it possible for this ideal, this institution of Hellenism, to continue. You are what made it possible for the National Herald to reach its current level.
And there are no words to thank our colleagues in America, Greece, and Cyprus who give their all every day with passion and self-sacrifice for each and every one of our readers, and for their newspaper.