Last week, the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by New Jersey Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez, listened to the testimony of George Tsunis, President Biden’s appointment for U.S. Ambassador to Greece.
The impressions he left at the confirmation hearing, according to all indications, are good. Analysts familiar with the matter believe that the Committee will recommend that the full Senate confirm Tsunis as the next American ambassador to Greece.
That would be the second time in the history of the Greek-American community that one of its members will have been chosen for that position. The first was Michael Sotirhos.
It is not often that one of our own appears in the historic room of the Senate Foreign Relations committee – in front of senior senators – and is called upon to demonstrate that he or she is qualified to represent the President and America in Greece. And in fact, in stormy times like ours.
However, it is not only the candidate’s diplomatic skills and other useful life experiences that count. The man himself also counts. As do his/her principles, values and his/her heart. And Tsunis proved that he has these to a remarkable degree.
“But most of all, if you’ll permit me,” he said in his presentation, “I want to express my heartfelt thanks to my parents. They heard Emma Lazarus’ calling and they emigrated to this country to build a better life for themselves and our family.”
He continued, “I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the United States’ willingness to provide opportunities for immigrants like my mom and dad and for first generation immigrants like me. I am humbled by the President’s nomination, and I view it as a chance to give back to the country that has given me and my family so much.”
It is amazing to think that a child of immigrants will return to his parents’ homeland as an ambassador of the country that hosted them – especially America. And it is also moving and a sign of his upbringing that this child did not forget the homeland. This is obviously the reason why he wants to go there as an ambassador, the country where he and his family spent many summers on vacation and where he learned to speak Greek.
He did not forget the struggle, the pain, and the sacrifices of his parents.
And for this reason, in one of the peak moments of his life, he remembers them and is grateful to them.
What a great vindication for the struggles of immigrant parents!
For the rest of us, the success of Greek-Americans – at least those who know and do not forget their roots – is also very important because they are role models for our children. Because they contribute to the preservation of their Hellenic consciousness. Because they find that, in addition to the negatives, we also have significant success as immigrants.
Like the candidacy and the likely approval of the candidacy of George Tsunis as the next American ambassador to Greece!