NEW YORK – The Adviser to the Publisher of The National Herald and Greece’s former Deputy Foreign Minister with Responsibility for Hellenes Abroad Antonis H. Diamataris was the honoree at the annual dinner-dance of the Panlemnian Philanthropic Association “HEPHAESTUS” held March 7 at Terrace on the Park in Queens, New York.
It was an act of recognition by the Association on behalf of their homeland to Diamataris, who has maintained close contact with the island of his birth and which he has sought to assist in various ways since arriving in the United States.
“On behalf of the Board and all members of the Brotherhood, I congratulate this evening’s honoree, our worthy compatriot Antonis Diamataris, in recognition of his excellent contributions to the Greek-American community, the Diaspora, and the motherland, Greece,” said the Association’s president Elefterios Hasapis during his greetings.
Antonis Diamataris was introduced by the Vice President of the Board of Directors, his childhood friend, Alekos Tsoukalas, who reminisced about their school years.
“Panlemnian Philanthropic Association “HEPHAESTUS” honors a genuine son of Lemnos who today symbolizes and embodies the American dream. A child who grew up during the difficult postwar years in great hardship in Thanos, Lemnos, raised by honest, hardworking parents, committed to his noble dream of a better future,” said Tsoukas.
Grigoris Maninakis, also a classmate and friend of Diamataris, then read a letter from their high school teacher, Nikolaos D. Triantafyllopoulos, expressing how touched and satisfied he felt about the course of Diamataris’ career.
With a touch of humor, the esteemed teacher asked of his student, “will he follow the κυάμων απέχεσθαι” – the philosopher Pythagoras’ exhortation of abstinence – “or will he return to the unruly political arena?” Whatever Diamataris’ choice, Triantafyllopoulos prays for God to lead his student’s future steps.
Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras spoke warmly about the island of Lemnos, in the contexts of the current turbulence on Greece’s Evros frontier and the Northeast Aegean.
Regarding Diamataris, Koutras spotlighted his role as publisher of The National Herald, while also praising his efforts during his time as Deputy Foreign Minister.
“We had started many things together under his direction, which I think, under his guidance now from another perspective, will all come to fruition, because he has the esteem of the Prime Minister, who had chosen Antonis, who is one of his most important friends.” Koutras, words echoed by his counterpart from the Republic of Cyprus Alexis Phedonos-Vadet.
“The government of Cyprus appreciates Mr. Diamataris. We have a decades-long relationship with him and we fully recognize his beneficial role for the Community here in New York,” said Phedonos-Vadet.
In his greetings Archbishop Elpidophoros of America noted that Antonis Diamataris “is being honored by his compatriots,” and emphasized that in so doing, the people of Lemnos refute the Gospel saying that “no prophet is honored in this homeland.”
The Archbishop emphasized that, “Mr Diamataris is doing an important job for the Diaspora, because the media is power. Information is power. When we are informed properly, as is done by The National Herald, we are strong because with this knowledge we can make sound judgements about what is happening and make the right decisions.”
Diamataris dedicated the award he received from the Lemnians to the memory of his father, Hercules. “I dedicate” – he said – “the honor you have given me to his memory. He deserves it more than I do.”
He also made a separate reference to Metropolitan Ierotheos of Lemnos, who, he said, “has loved our island from the beginning.”
Diamataris touched on his tenure as Deputy Foreign Minister, stressing that “in essence, I was not accused of anything at all. And the essence was and is whether or not I did my job correctly. And whether I did it honestly or not. That was the essence. Everything else was an excuse,” for political attacks. “But at the end of the day,” he continued, “it’s not about me. Who am I? The point is that it is a shame that an opportunity has been missed for Hellenism Abroad and for Greece.”
He also spoke about the problems that Lemnos is facing, with one of the most important being operational issues of the island’s hospital.
Among those present were Ambassador Lucas and Mrs. Penny Tsilas, Dr. George and Dr. Miranda Kofinas, Dr. Frixos and Mary Goussis, Cleanthis Meimaroglou, president of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, Costas Constantinidis, City Councilman and candidate for Borough President of Queens, and Stephanos Cherpelis.