Washington, DC – On January 17, 2007, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a dinner in honor of the newly elected Greek American members of Congress, Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Zack Space (D-OH) at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC.
Opening the eveningʼs program, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis said, “As Greek Americans, we always take great pride and joy when someone in our community reaches a high pinnacle of success in their chosen field of endeavor. Tonight the joy has been tripled as we welcome to Washington these three. We extend our heartfelt best wishes to you for your success and longevity as you begin your career in the most noble of endeavors: serving out nation in the Peopleʼs House – the U.S. Congress.”
Following dinner, the three Congressmen were introduced by AHI leadership and friends. To begin the evening, AHI Chairman James Marketos introduced Congressman Gus Bilirakis.
In his remarks, Congressman Bilirakis stated, “We canʼt lose the identity. We canʼt lose the customs. We canʼt lose the traditions, more importantly the ʽthriskiaʼ (religion) and our ʽglossaʼ (language). I know itʼs very advantageous to be Greek American. We are very blessed to be Greek American. We have an obligation – We have an obligation to protect our community, our Greek community here in the United States, and protect our ʽElladaʼ (Greece) and our ʽKypro.ʼ (Cyprus)”
Congressman John Sarbanes was introduced by AHI member and long-time friend of the Sarbanes family Manny Rouvelas, Partner of Kilpatrick & Lockhart, Preston Gates Ellis LLP.
Congressman Sarbanes said, “We have to embrace everyone in our community. We have so much to offer. And thatʼs why Iʼm so proud to represent this community. And when I say represent, I donʼt mean represent it as an elected official. I mean be an Ambassador for the Greek American community as somebody who cherishes and who feels so deeply about our heritage…”
Finally, AHI President Gene Rossides introduced Congressman Zack Space.
Congressman Space said, “The Greek American community is more responsible than any other community for me being here. They were very generous at a time when I needed generosity. They were loyal when loyalty counted the most. And I wonʼt forget that…I will be a very strong advocate for the Greek Americans and for the Greeks in general when it comes to those issues…Iʼm looking forward to working with Gus and with John as we approach those issues head on….”
Over 120 persons attended the dinner. Attendees included: former Senator Paul Sarbanes, Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias and Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Andreas Kakouris and Mrs. Kakouris, AHI Advisory Committee Member and U.S. Regional Coordinator for the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Ted Spyropoulos and Mrs. Spyropoulos, former Supreme President of AHEPA Spiro Macris and President of the Evrytanian Association of America Kostas Kazakos. Guests came from across the U.S. including Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.