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AHI Hosts 27th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement And National Public Service Awards Dinner
March 11, 2002 No. 11/02 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts 27th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement And National Public Service Awards Dinner

WASHINGTON, DC -- A distinguished Congressman, an author specializing in Hellenic culture and traditions, an accomplished and respected publisher, a world-renowned singer, and a visionary of the e-commerce and e-finance revolution were the dynamic individuals honored on March 2, 2002 at the American Hellenic Institute's (AHI) 27th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner. These five individuals from a diversity of professional backgrounds were recognized for their talents and contributions to the Greek American community.

The recipient of the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his outstanding career in public service spanning two decades was Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).

The Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award was presented to: Marilyn Rouvelasfor her outstanding career as an author, documenting the traditions of the Greek community in the U.S.; Antonis H. Diamataris, publisher of the Greek language newspaper The National Herald, for his pioneering career as a publisher, devoting his work to promoting Hellenism; Nadia Weinberg, for her outstanding career as a world-class vocal soloist, promoting Greece and its musical culture and for her commitment to philanthropy; and Christos M. Cotsakos, Chairman and CEO for E*TRADE Group, for his outstanding entrepreneurial achievements and philanthropic service to the Nation and community.

The gala affair, which was attended by more than 350 family members, friends and supporters of the AHI from across the country, took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Special guests included: Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis; Senator and Mrs. Paul S. Sarbanes; Mr. Vassilios Costis, representing Greece's Ambassador to the U.S. Alexander Philon who was in Greece; and Maryland State Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Nick Larigakis, AHI Executive Director, opened the program by welcoming the dinner guests and announcing the entrance of the Marines of Headquarters Battalion for the presentation of the colors. The American and Greek national anthems were performed by the accomplished opera singer Christina Andreou, accompanied on piano by Richard Danley. The evening's invocation and benediction were delivered by Reverend Michael Eaccarino of Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Falls Church, VA.

As a special tribute to honor the memory of the victims of the September 11 tragedy, a moment of silence was observed, followed by a beautiful medley of patriotic songs to celebrate the country's resilience during these challenging times. The medley was performed by Ms. Andreou and Mr. Danley.

Following dinner, which was accompanied by the music of the band Zephyros, AHI founder Gene Rossides briefly previewed AHI's activities for 2002. Upcoming events highlighted include: a March 12 luncheon honoring the 55th Anniversary of the Truman Doctrine of Aid to Greece featuring General Andrew J. Goodpaster, former Supreme Commander of NATO; a Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day on March 19; the springtime publication of a book on U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus since 1974; and, in October, AHI is set to launch the "First Annual Conference on Hellenism in America."

Chairman James Marketos opened the awards ceremony with his greetings and an overview of AHI's accomplishments in 2001. Following these remarks, American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC) Chairman Nicholas Chimicles introduced Thalia Assuras, recently promoted to the position of national correspondent for the "CBS Early News," who served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.


In his acceptance speech, Congressman Pallone stressed his advocacy of issues regarding Greece and Cyprus and vowed to work with his colleagues in Congress towards a resolution of the Cyprus issue and to promote the country's accession to the European Union. He also highlighted the critical role played by AHI in maintaining Congressional awareness of Hellenic issues and the more universal themes such as the rule of law which these issues represent. He stated:

"As much as we talk about freedom for Cyprus and the other issues that directly relate to Cyprus and Greece, the bottom line is that [AHI] and the issues that it espouses transcend that. [You] are basically saying that Turkey and many of the other countries that the United States supposedly is friends with  in many ways for the wrong reasons  need to turn themselves around. Only then can they be a good neighbor. Only then can they stand for peace. Only then can we see a better world."

In accepting her award following the Congressman, Marilyn Rouvelas similarly reflected on the importance of Hellenic values, which have served as the basis for Western civilization and still resonate today: "We want everyone to understand the universality and the timelessness of Hellenism and that they can also be a part of it." Mrs. Rouvelas was greatly influenced by the Greek culture through her marriage to Manny Rouvelas. This lifetime experience inspired her best-selling book, A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America, which has become a popular standard reference that explains Hellenic and Orthodox traditions.

The next honoree, Antonis H. Diamataris, discussed the fundamental need for a voice and public archive for the Hellenic community here in the United States. This voice is embodied in the newspaper which he has diligently published for 22 years  The National Herald. In Mr. Diamataris' words:

"It's a rule that it takes a newspaper to make a community. A newspaper is the link that brings a community together and keeps it together. It brings the news, tells the story, the successes and the failures, the good and the bad. Somebody has to tell the story of Greek America, and somebody has to bring Greek Americans the story of the rest of the Hellenic world. This is our job. This is the job of Ethnikos Keryx, of The National Herald. We will continue telling the stories for many more years to come, compiling a written record of a proud historic people in a great and free land."

Nadia Weinberg, the evening's fourth honoree, discussed the roots of the artistic inspiration that has propelled her successful singing career. These roots are her rich culture. She noted: "The greatest gift that I've received is the spiritual and cultural heritage that my parents gave to me. It enriched my life, it made me who I am, and I am very proud to be three pieces  Greek, American and Jewish." Ms. Weinberg also noted that "the most wonderful thing about this country is that it honored us by making us American citizens without depriving us the great pride and joy in being Greek, or Jewish, or Italian."

The final honoree receiving an award for the evening was Christos Cotsakos. Mr. Cotsakos reflected on the crucial role played by the various influences and individuals encountered throughout a person's lifetime parents, family, friends, colleagues  in driving that person to success. He stated poignantly:

"If I've learned anything in my short life of 53 years, it's that to be successful is to help other people be more successful than you. Much like the generation before us gave us the ability with those wings to fly, it is now our responsibility to give the next generation their wings so that we can have in this great American and Hellenic culture duty, honor, country, family and community."

The Honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Mr. Savas Tsivicos, President and owner of Paphian Enterprises, Inc. and former Chairman of AHIPAC (for Congressman Pallone); Professor Charles Moskos, Professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and currently a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center (for Mrs. Rouvelas); Professor Nickolaos A. Stavrou, Graduate Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. (for Mr. Diamataris); Mr. Tom Ellis, Washington Bureau Chief for ANTENNA TV and the Athens News Agency, and U.S. correspondent for the Deutschewelle's Greek Service and for the daily Kathimerini (for Ms. Weinberg); and Mr. Mitchell H. Caplan, Managing Director, North America and Chief Financial Products Officer for E*TRADE Group (for Mr. Cotsakos).

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

Former Honorees attending the event included: Dr. Stamatis Krimigis; Dr. Ted Lyras; Ms. Dora Hancock, former President Hellenic American Women's Council (HAWC); Mr. David Weinberg; Ms. Angene Rafferty; and Ms. Dena Clark.

Other notable guests included: Mr. Andreas Pericli, President, Pan-Cyprian Association the Greater Metropolitan Washington area; Ms. Rozana Papadopoulos, General Manager of Zephyr Publications and Odyssey Magazine; Mr. Donald Neese, Director for Western Europe, Lockheed Martin, led a delegation of company executives; and Mr. James Lagos, a major Hellenic House benefactor.

For additional information regarding the AHI's 27th Annual Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, including photographs and honoree transcripts, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 For general information regarding the mission and activities of AHI, please visit our website at