New York.- (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Thursday night decorated Greece’s deputy culture minister responsible for sport George Orfanos with the prestigious Drexel Presidential Gold Medal.
University president Dr. Constantine (Taki) Papadakis presented Orfanos with the medal and accompanying honourary diploma, during a special ceremony in New York, saying that “we honour a worthy Greek politician, representative of the Greek government, in recognition of his significant contribution to the successfull organisation of the Olympic Games in Athens (2004) and his constant efforts for spreading the athletic ideal”.
Papadakis said that the 2004 Games “filled us all with pride because it highlighted the accomplishments and virtues of the Greeks and, in Mr. Orfanos, we acknowledge and honour one of the most beautiful achievements of the Greek government and the Greek nation”.
“We, who visit the homeland once or twice a year, see the gradual changes. The image of Greece becomes better each year,” he said.
Papadakis explained that the Presidential Medal is given to international public personalities of politics, the sciences, the arts and sport, noting that previous recipients include former US and Chinese presidents Bill Clinton and Zhiang Zemin, several Nobel laureates, as well as Oscar winners.
The presentation of the Medal was held in New York on Friday morning (Greek time) at an event organised by the founder and owner of the National Greek television channel of America (NGTV) Dimitris Kastanas, who also presented Orfanos with an honourary plaque “in recognition of his abilities, work and ethos”, noting that NGTV has been in operation for 32 years and comprises a constant bridge of communication of the Greeks of America with Greece.
At the same event, Orfanos was also honoured by the State House of Representatives of New York, with the honourary diploma presented to him by State House of Representatives member Michael Giannaris, who said that “we honour Mr. Orfanos for his contribution, as a member of the Greek government, to the great success of the Olympic Games of Athens”.
“We Greek-Americans, in particularly, thank him for making us proud of our parents’ country,” he said.
Orfanos was further honoured by the US federal House of Representatives, receiving an honourable distinction from Congresswoman Caroline Maloney (D-NY), co-founder and co-char of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, which was presented to Orfanos by Maloney’s representative Mary Maragos, who said that “we acknowledge and honour him for his work for the ideals of athleticism”.
The Greek deputy minister attended the special White House event in Washington on Friday during which US president George Bush will proclam March 25, 2007, as “Greek Independence Day: National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy”, which will also be attended by Greece’s foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and Archbishop Demetrios of America.
He also held an hour long pivate meeting with Archbishop Demetrios.
Orfanos will then depart for Chicago where, on Sunday, he will be Grand Marshall of the Greek Independence Day Parade, which will take place on historic Holstead Avenue.