President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
I am a resident of Shoreham, New York. I was born and grew up in the small village of Drosopigi (Kantsiko) in the province of Epirus in northwestern Greece and came to the US over thirty years ago for university studies. I received my doctoral degree, became a US citizen in the process and for the last twenty two years I am scientific staff in one of our National Laboratories.
I am not writing this letter in support of or on behalf of any political or social cause or issue. I am writing to you to introduce you to a very touching and true story about a very simple item, expression of the US generosity when the world was in need, that had an impact inversely proportional to its size or monetary value. I am not a writer that will be able to sensationalize this little story by picking the “right” words and phrases. It simply comes from the heart and in the best way that I can recite it given that in some ways I am directly connected to it.
By reading the story which accompanies this letter you will see how a piece of cloth with the imprint “Donated by the People of the United States of America” on it, a sack containing US Aid corn meal that was dropped from the air in the late 1940s in a remote part of northwestern Greece to feed people caught in the middle of a civil war that broke out immediately after WWII, has returned home to the US sixty years later. My mother, Zoe Simos, who lived through WWII and the civil war, brought it back here in one of her recent visits. It completed its long journey but this time contained a simple gift from the region it was dropped on. Its content, wild tea growing in the rugged mountains of the region, has been bonded ever so strongly with the lives of the people there and nothing could better symbolize or express that bond than this simple item as it is explained in the body of the story. The gift that went across the ocean and came back as gift quietly reminds us that the bonds between people across the world and between generations can survive the test of time. It is also a living testimony to the generosity of the American people when the world needed help.
I thought that you will also be touched by this unassuming but true story and I felt that it is important that you know. I see it as a powerful reminder of the goodness and generosity of the American people. Most of the time we search for that special connection amongst things that make the news but the answer may be hidden in the power of these simple acts. And it is this time when Greece and its people are going through the hardest of times since WWII and the civil war to be reminded once again they are not alone.
Hope someday our paths cross and get to share a cup of this special tea which in its simple way prompted the writing of this story and by doing so became the reminder, along with the corn meal sack it came in, of the goodness of our people during times when it truly mattered.