New York – Breaking a 26 year old tradition according to which all recipients of the Annual Homeric Award were either American politicians or personalities with valuable contribution to the Greek National causes, the Chian Federation bestowed its highest honor to Dr. Stamatios M. Krimigis, Head Emeritus of the Space Department at the Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, a Hellene who has opened new paths in the space exploration.
One might have better understand the meaning of the decision to honor Dr Krimizis, by listening to the 17 year old student Anna Theodoropoulos, head of her high school Robotics team, speaking about the influence of the Chian born science to her life.
“He taught us there is no limit on what on can do. He is someone creating fantasy and dream into reality. He is a role model, one who made a difference in many peoples lives, one of them mine”.
Dr Krimigis – who has an asteroid named on his name – serves as Principal Investigator of the Voyager Interstellar Mission and the recent Cassini Mission to Saturn.
Present at the Award ceremony, held on Saturday November 20th, 2004, at Hellenic American Cultural Center of the Chian Federation , were many prominent Chian politicians. Amongst them, Member of Parliament Ioannis Pittas, Mayor of Chios Markos Menis, Mayor of Kardamila Nicos Marinakis and Mayor of Homeroupolis Demetris Papalios. Also present was New York State Assemblyman, Michael Gianaris.
Dr Krimizis has placed the name of his home island of Chios in Space, naming a crater on the Asteroid Eros. Besides being a top scientist, Dr Krimizis has remained a socially sensitive person and a proud Hellene very active in defending our national issues and keeping our cultural heritage.
As John Pittas, chairman of the 27th Homeric Award, said, Dr Krimizis was a very active member of the St George Parish in Bethesda MD. Right after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, he mobilized people in Washington DC. He was the Chairman of the local chapter of the Friends of Cyprus and the publisher of the Cyprus Observer.
“When a man reaches for the star is a visionary. And Dr Krimizis is a teacher of Humanity”, Mr Pittas concluded.
United States’ top space scientist – who recently has become a full member of the Athens Academy – in his speech said this particular award is more important because it’s coming from his compatriots.
“I am only one of hundreds, if not thousands of scientists, engineers, doctors, mathematicians, university professors and others in the field of science and technology, who work in the country and have contributed a great deal to the welfare of people in all walks of life. I accept this honor on their behalf”.
Commenting on the decision of Chian Federation to honor a scientist, Dr Krimizis mentioned the importance of science in improving peoples’ lives.
“Who would argue that the work of Dr George Papanicolaou, the developer of the so called Pap-test for cervical cancer, has saved tens of millions of lives through early diagnosis and treatment? Or Dr Kotzias’ discovery that has been used to treat Parkinson’s disease for several decades. Or Dr Dimitris Trichopoulos, whose epidemiological research on the Mediterranean diet has had a great impact in how people eat. Or Dr Michael Dertouzos and Nicholas Negroponte and their work on computers, robotics and artificial intelligence ”.Dr Krimizis has pointed out that despite the great impact all these scientists had on peoples lives, they have remained relatively unknown.
He also said he was very fortunate for being a young student at the beginning of the space age, some 45 years ago and being a part to join a team of people that had the education beyond our home planet and discovered what our solar system is all about.
“It has been a great feeling to be at the fore front and discover the future, rather being a mere spectator. Walking on a small island as a kid and wandering what was up there in the night sky, and 15 years later being a member of humanity’s first attempt to fly by Mars trying to reveal its secrets”, he said.
Chian Federation President Alex Doulis paid tribute to the 92nd Anniversary of the island’s liberation and the 30 years of continuous Turkish occupation of the northern part of Cyprus.
“As community let us remember that history despite its wrenched pain cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage, need not be lived again”.
Doulis reminded the gathering that for over 30 years, the Chian Federation has served the Chian and Hellenic American Community with pride, hard work, dignity and grace, while fostering Hellenic culture and ideals.
“While we proudly celebrate past achievements which have been made possible through a spirit of cooperation and unity of effort, we are prepare ourselves for future challenges which require that we continue to work together, hand in hand, with total commitment and dedication to protecting the principles of our heritage and the preservation of Chian roots”.