New York.- Archbishop Demetrios of America together with Archons’ National Commander Dr. Anthony Limberakis presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to Admiral James G. Stavridis and the members of the United States Armed Services. Admiral Stavridis is the highest ranking Greek American in the history of the United States Military. The award was presented during the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Award Banquet held at the New York Hilton, Oct. 15, 2011.
Archons National Commander Dr. Anthony Limberakis, paid tribute to Admiral Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander of Europe and the three million heroic members of our Armed Forces. He stated that, “The three million heroes of America’s Men and Women in uniform who defend our way of life each singularly, and together collectively, share in the 2011 Athenagoras Human Rights Award.” He continued by stating, “There are those among us who pray for human rights. But no one among us is called upon to lay down their own lives and make the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard those very fundamental human rights, other than the members of our Armed Services, the recipients of the 2011 Athenagoras Human Rights Award.”
In accepting the award Admiral Stavridis spoke about his family and the values that were instilled in him and particularly about his father who left Asia Minor in the early 20th Century and conveyed his pride for his Hellenic heritage. The Admiral explained the humanitarian role of the Armed Forces and said that “it is the duty of the strong to protect those who are weak,” adding that “might does not make right” and explaining that “we live in an imperfect world” in which “human rights sadly are not the norm.”
Archbishop Demetrios, in his response, congratulated “the admirable Admiral” for a “well deserved honor,” and conveyed all the best wishes and blessing of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Order of St. Andrew, to the honoree and the all those present at the banquet. The Archbishop said that from the days of Marathon and Salamis to the days of WWII and the invasion of Greece by the Axis armies, the Greek example of military conflict is one of people, small in numbers, who resist to submitting themselves and their country to much larger foreign threats and occupation. His Eminence also noted that when Stavridis’ parents were leaving their ancestral land for America they were carrying with them two important and symbolic items. The father, his academic college diploma and the mother a treasured icon of St. George, items representative of education and faith. Archbishop Demetrios added that in Stavridis as a person there is a convergence of the ancient Greek traditions and the Hellenic ideals with the witnessing of Christianity and the Orthodox tradition and martyrdom exemplified by many of our Saints and Martyrs who were in military service of their time.
Archbishop Demetrios concluded with a quote from Homer’s Iliad: “One omen is best—to defend your country,” and said that “because we are the people of Faith, tonight we conclude with the promise coming from our Faith and we are basing our perspectives on Faith and Hope.”
Those who offered additional remarks at the beginning of the program were the Honorable Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, and Archon John Halecky, Jr.
ABC Chief Political Correspondent and Co-Anchor of Good Morning America Archon George Stephanopoulos served as Master of Ceremonies and Fox News Chief Congressional Correspondent Archon Mike Emmanuel offered the introduction of the dais guests. Archon Theodore Dimitriou and Archon Konstantine Vellios were Co-Chairs while Archon Depoutatos and National Vice-Commander Nicholas J. Bouras underwrote the event for the thirteenth consecutive time. The music was provided by the Navy Band Northeast’s Brass Quintet.
On Sunday morning, Oct. 16, Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City with Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Isaiah of Denver and Evangelos of New Jersey concelebrating. Following the Divine Liturgy the ceremony of investiture of the new Archons took place. They are Mark Adam, Manchester, New Hampshire; Kostandinos M. Arger, M.D., Reno, NV; John Avdoulos, Westland, MI; Drake G. Behrakis, Watertown, MA; Jon J. Couchell, Spartanburg, SC; George M. Gazis, Houston TX; George Gritsonis, Palatine, IL; Constantine Kaganis, Bronx, NY; Chris Karamanos, Toms River, NJ; Pavlos Kymissis, M.D., Hempstead, NY and Stroudsburg, PA; Steven Lukac, Sharon, PA; Christopher D. Mandaleris, Greensboro, NC; Markos K. Marinakis, NY, NY; Thomas N. Mitrakos, Mt. Lebanon, PA; Theo Nicolakis, Orange, CT; Harry Oryhon, D.D.S., Palos Park, IL; Paul J. Plumis, Seattle, WA; Reince Priebus, Racine, WI; John C. Rouman, Ph.D., Dover, NH; John Sakellaris, Jersey City, NJ; Dean G. Skelos, Hempstead, NY; Harry W. Spell, Minneapolis, MN; Christopher J. Spilios, Weston, MA; Gregory J. Stamos, Orange, CT and Ansonia, CT; Thomas M. Suehs, Austin, TX; George A. Tsougarakis, Tenafly, NJ; Argyris Vassiliou, Stamford, CT and Windham, NY; Peter N. Vastures, Columbus, OH; George P. Zaharas, Cheyenne, WY.