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AHI Hosts 26th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement And National Public Service Awards Dinner
March 14, 2001

No. 13/01 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts 26th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement And National Public Service Awards Dinner

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored three distinguished Greek Americans, one Member of Congress and a remarkable diplomat at a glittering ceremony held on March 3, 2001 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. on the occasion of AHI's 26th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner.

The dinner was attended by over 400 family, friends and supporters of the AHI from across the country. Special guests included Congressman Michael Bilirakis(R-FL), Greek Ambassador Alexander Philon, and Cypriot Deputy Chief of Mission George Chacalli.

Mr. Nick Larigakis, AHI Executive Director, opened the program and welcomed the dinner guests. Following presentation of the colors by the Headquarters Battalion, US Marine Corps, students from the Greek School of St. Katherine's Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, Virginia performed the American and Greek national anthems under the direction of Mr. Nick Kyrus. The invocation and benediction were said by Father Ted Chelpon, Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Washington, D.C. Dinner music was provided by Zephyros.

After dinner, AHI Chairman James Marketos opened the awards ceremony with his greetings and an overview of AHI's accomplishments in 2000. Following his remarks, AHIPAC Chairman Nicholas Chimicles introduced Mr. John C. Metaxas, Anchor and correspondent of CNN Financial News, who served as Master of Ceremonies.

The recipients of the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for their outstanding careers in public service were Congresswoman Constance Morella(R-MD), U.S. Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns and Angene George Rafferty of Washington, D.C.

Hellenic Heritage Achievement Awards were presented to Mr. Nick Bouras,President of Bouras Industries, Inc., and to the Yeonas Brothers -- Stephen and posthumously Constantine, Paul and Jimmie -- family home builders.

In her acceptance speech, Congresswoman Morella stressed her advocacy of issues regarding Greece and Cyprus and vowed to work with her colleagues in Congress towards a resolution. "I and other members of Congress really want to a resolution to the crisis in Cyprus. We are now into the 27th year of the illegal Turkish invasion and it is time for something positive to happen." She also stressed the need for "peace in the Aegean, protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece."

Ambassador Burns echoed Congresswoman Morella's sentiments about Cyprus in his acceptance speech, stating: "we should want for Cyprus what we want for our selves -- and that is self-determination and peace and unity, not division after 27 years." Amb. Burns also spoke of the importance of the Greek American community in improving U.S. relations with Greece, stating that "(the work) of the Greek Americans is more important than what governments do."

The Ambassador touched on some of the same themes he had iterated earlier in the day at a breakfast presentation for AHI members. At the breakfast, Ambassador Burns gave a fascinating discussion on the history and current state of U.S.- Greece relations. He elaborated on the recent meeting between Secretary of State Powelland Foreign Minister Papandreou and explored many aspects of the bi-lateral relationship, commenting that for the U.S., "Greece is the most important country in Southeast Europe."

The Honorees of Greek heritage placed great emphasis on the values of education, hard work, family support and volunteerism. They spoke of their Greek heritage and their faith. They accepted their awards with gratitude and humility, expressing the hope that they would be an inspiration to others.

Highlights of their remarks were:

Mrs. Rafferty: "I am honored and humbled to be before you this evening as the recipient of the Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award which I consider a tribute to not just me but to all of us who have worked together on so many projects over the years."

Mr. SteveYeonas, on behalf of his family: "We Greeks have made an enormous contribution to this country, you cannot travel this city without seeing our influence...George Washington used the Greek word Paladium to describe our union as the foundation on which our prosperity and union rested. If that is the center of our national life, what is the Paladium for Greek Americans? What is the foundation of our communal lives? It is our family, our faith and our friends, it is the fellowship we celebrate this evening."

Mr. Bouras: "I have to thank my father and my mother for being such wonderful parents to me and for teaching us to be good, honest citizens in this country and to love everything that is Greek, including our heritage, our religion, and being a good person.

The Honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Mr. Peter Gus Pappas, President, Pete Pappas & Sons, Inc. (Mrs. Rafferty); Mr. George C. Yeonas, CEO of the Fortress Group (The Yeonas Brothers); Ambassador Patrick Theros, President, U.S.-Qatar Business Council (Congresswoman Morella); Mr. George Behrakis, President, the Behrakis Foundation (Mr. Bouras); and Mr. Eugene T. Rossides, President, AHIF (Amb. Burns).

In their remarks, the introducers praised the Honorees both for their outstanding personal accomplishments and for the service they had rendered to their communities and the cause of Hellenism.

Prominent guests included:

Presidents and Executives of Greek American organizations: Mr. Demo Kolaras,Executive Director, Order of AHEPA, Professor Van Coufoudakis, Chairman, Foundation for Hellenic Studies and Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana-Purdue Unviersity; Mr. Andreas Pericli, President, Pan-Cyprian Association the Greater Metropolitan Washington area; Mr. Ted Spyropoulos, President, Hellenic American National Council; Stacey Sava, President Hellenic American Women's Council, Nina Peropoulos, President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of America and Mr. Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, representing the Western Policy Center.

Former Honorees: Dr. Stamatis Krimigis; Dr. Ted Lyras; Ms. Dora Hancock,former President Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC); CongressmanMichael Bilirakis (R-FL), Mr. George Behrakis and Mr. Peter Zourdos.

Others: Mr. Donald Neese, Director for Western Europe, Lockheed Martin, led a delegation of company executives; Ms. Ketty Tzizikosta, President, UNESCO Center for Women and Peace, Mr. Steve Manta, former Supreme President of the Order of AHEPA, Mr. George Spyropoulos, a founding member of AHI and a major Hellenic House Benefactor; Ms Dorie Klissas, a Producer at the NBC "Today Show"; Mr. Jim Lagos, Lagos and Lagos LLP, Springfield, Ohio; Mr.Alkis Panagoulias, former national team coach for Greece and Team America.