By Catherine Tsounis
Chios is the last vestige of Greek Ionia. President John Mihalios of Kambia and his brother Demetrios said recently, “We hold on to the ancient civilization of Smyrna that has vanished.” Chios was part of a civilization known as Ionia that encompassed the western coast of Asia Minor on the Aegean Sea, Samos and Ikaria. To the Ancient World, the Ionians were one of many Greek tribes. To the Asians, the Ionians were all the Greeks who are called Giounan (Giounan) today. Smyrna (modern day Izmir) originally an Aeolic colony, was occupied by Ionians from Colophon, becoming an Ionian city. Ionia has given world civilization famous men of philosophy, science and a school of art that led to the accomplishments of 5th century Athens Golden Age. Homer spoke in the Ionian dialect and is perceived to be from this region. Chios is a reflection of the unique Greek/Byzantine tradition that is held alive in 2012.
A son of Ionia was honoured at the 33rd Homeric Award Ceremony of the Chian Federation on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm at the Hellenic American Cultural Center of the Chian Federation, 44-01 Broadway, and Astoria, NY. His grandparents were from a village outside of modern Izmir (Smyrna). A Greek village as depicted in Dido Sotiriou’s “Matomena Homata: (Farewell Anatolia) in the state of Izmir. A love for the Greek classics, modern poetry and ancient military strategy was evident throughout his conversations. Patriotism, devotion to family and respect for his Greek heritage are part of his personality. Not only is he an Ionian, but a son of Chios that is part of the Ionian civilization. Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN, current Commander U.S. European Command, (USEUCOM) and NATOʼs Supreme Allied Commander Europe, (SACEUR) is the 2012 recipient of the 33rd Homeric Award. Coincidentally he received this honor on his Name day of St. Demetrios, the warrior saint and protector of the city of Thessaloniki. For more information, visit the Chian Federation, visit http://www.chianfed.org.
Admiral James G. Stavridis USN, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe Commander, United States European Command, was the featured speaker at the “2010 Sophocles and Louisa Zoullas Memorial Hellenic Lecture” on Saturday, June 26, 2010, at Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church, Southampton, New York. His lecture was the “Lessons of the Battle of Salamis”. In addition, he was the recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award.
The Thirty-Third Homeric Award Banquet program consisted of the following: The Honorable Matthew Mirones, Master of Ceremonies; Invocation, His Eminence Metropolitan of Limnos Ierotheos; National Anthem, Ms. Flora Kyrou; Welcome, Mr. Markos Marinakis, Chairman of the 33rd Homeric Award; Greetings, Mr. Stavros Haviaras, President, the Chian Federation; The Honorable Koula Sophianou, Consul of the Republic of Cyprus; The Honorable George Iliopoulos, Consul General of the Hellenic Republic; The Honorable Peter F. Vallone, Jr., Council Member, City of New York; Keynote Address, Mr. Philip Christopher; Presentation of the 33rd Homeric Award, Mr. Stavros Haviaras, President, the Chian Federation; Markos K. Marinakis, Chairman, Chios Liberation Centennial Committee; Response, Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN, Recipient, 33rd Homeric Award; Entertainment, Syn-Phonia Orchestra; Traditional Greek Dances, Dance Group of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Chian Federation. New York State Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, New York State Senator Mike Giannaris, New York State Assemblyperson Aravella Simotas and other prominent persons gave their warmest wishes to Admiral Stavridis. Congratulations from religious, political, education and business leaders can be found in the exceptional Thirty-Third Homeric Award Journal celebrating 100 years of freedom for Chios.
In his press conference prior to his award, Admiral Stavridis described Themistocles’ speech on the eve of the Battle of Salamis. “The Persian fleet was massive. They outnumbered the Greek fleet. Themistocles knew he had one great advantage over the Persians. The Persian fleet was manned almost entirely by slaves. The Greek fleet was manned entirely by free men. The night before the battle, Themistocles said ‘tomorrow you must row for your wives and your children. Tomorrow you must row for your parents. Tomorrow you must row for your city. And tomorrow you must row for freedom. Wherever Greek-Americans go, they have pride, because of their many centuries of civilization. Freedom to worship came from ancient Greece. My father fought in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam instilling in me love for one’s country and patriotism. What defines a true leader? Every day and every moment, you must inspire your command, serve them. All you accomplish in life is by helping persons accomplish their goals, acting as a leader and a servant.”
In his response to the audience afterwards, he quoted C.P. Cavafy’s “Ithaca”. “Keep Ithaka always in your mind,” he recited. “Arriving there is what you are destined for. But do not hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you are old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you would not have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”
The honoree believes, “Chios is the heart of Greek values. I hold three values: Know thyself; live with courage and sail on in life as a mariner.” He ended his presentation by quoting Nikos Kazantzakis saying, “I want nothing. I fear nothing. I am free. We must live with courage and be free.” His humility and approachable personality reminded this writer of Dr. Stamatios Krimigis at the Panchiaki Korais Society, Inc. Centennial Symposium held on Saturday, October 14th, at the Chian Federation. I was impressed that the Admiral’s grandparents had a diner in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where my grandparents’ relatives had a diner. He spoke with Mid-Western values as my late father George Tsounis, a purple heart WWII POW in Germany and late Godfather WWII veteran Chris Christopher (Christofis), the Chief of the Cartography Department of the United Nations for ten years. who were both raised in the steel mill town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
Admiral Stavrides, as the American and NATO commander in Europe, he became the first naval officer appointed to a position previously held by famed ground-warfare generals. He oversees all American forces under the United States European Command and is the Supreme Allied Commander, NATO’s top military position. Throughout the evening, he referred to his love of the sea and thenavy. The Admiral epitomizes the finest attributes of his Ionian heritage: seamanship.
To understand Admiral James Stavridis’ character, one must go back to his roots in Western Anatolia. Christos Papoutsy in his landmark book “Ships of Mercy” says “The Greeks of Turkey were different from the Greeks of Greece. These Greeks were direct descendants of the Ionian Greeks, who settled the Aegean coast of Asia Minor, more than a thousand years ago. They were a strong, dynamic part of the population, largely controlling the banking, shipping and general mercantile business……to become penniless refugees, living in tents and driven to accept the most menial work, was a huge emotional shock……so many overcame these circumstances is a testament to the Greek spirit. Not only were people horribly wronged, but an entire region was changed as well.” Chios is a microcosm of this business and cultural community.
Philip Christopher, the 31st Homeric Award recipient in 2010, who was at the inception of the Chian Federation with the late founder George Livanos, said “Admiral Stavridis is an exemplary role model. The Chian Federation is in the forefront of all national issues. They hold on to Hellenic ideals and values.” Phillip Christopher was my classmate at St. Demetrios Greek American Parochial Greek School of Astoria and the President of the Student Union of Bryant High School. Phillip, his sisters, Kiki Lazarides, an educator of generations of Greek Americans, Fannie Petalides, former publisher of Proini newspaper and brother-in-law Chris Lazarides, who helped all from the Atlantic Bank have worked with Chiotes. They understand the loss of Kyrenia, Cyprus, because every day they watch from Chios City the lost paradise of Tseme (Cesme).
Georgios Iliopoulos, Consul General of Greece, made amazing comments on the Greece economic situation. “We must instill in the younger generation Greek values,” he said. “Historical remembrance fosters the survival of a nation. Remembering Greek values and leaving them to youth helps mold a person such as Admiral James Stavridis with professional achievements and ethos. Our Patrida (homeland) has difficult hours. Poor economic judgments and miscalculations have caused the results we are now living. Chios managed their affairs differently than the rest of Greece. Their ship owning trade and cultivation of masticha resulted in the creation of home industries.”
Iliopolos explained “Chios created new products with masticha, such as the masticha shops and masticha related products. Half of the masticha fields were burnt down in mid-August 2012. It takes five years to regrow masticha trees. We must help the industry of masticha to rebuild.” Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D. and Susan Achtziger, a fourth generation speech pathologist of Italian/German background, were in Chios before and during the infamous “Masticha Fires”. The Chiotes, particularly Sunrise Tours who managed their travel program, showed strength. Tourism continued with safety. Both tourists were told at the airport that fires began in seven different locations, far apart. Their only problem was losing their luggage on August 21st at the Chios Airport on route to Thessaloniki. Sunrise Tours cut through red tape and delivered their luggage to Thessaloniki. “You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity,” Epicurus (341-270 BC). This is the Chios character.
The Chian Federation is a nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1974 by 29 societies of New York. There are 35,000 Americans of Chian descent. In 1977, the Homeric Award was established by the Chian Federation and awarded to Congress member Benjamin Rosenthal for his attempts for a solution to the Cyprus issue. It is presented to individuals who have demonstrated an advocacy for human rights, the rule of law, democratic ideals and strengthened relations between the United States and Greece.
Nick Papagiannakis is to be commended for his untiring work at the entrance taking care of all tickets, his internet and publishing efforts. Ms. Amalia Bournia, an architect, was the only woman serving as Co-Chairman, making sure all went smoothly. The lavish arrangements and smooth operation of the evening had a lot to do with her work in the background, along with Alex Doulis, the Honorable Mathew Mirones and every member of the Centennial Committee.
On this Centennial Anniversary of the Liberation of Chios, the Chian Federation will publish the book “Chios 1822 — 1912: From Massacre to Liberation” containing newspaper & magazine articles and book chapters dealing with a period of Chian history which has not been well documented in the historical literature of Chios, especially in the English language. Nick Papagiannakis is the editor. The Chian Federation undertook the effort to publish this volume within the context of the Chios Liberation Centennial celebrations as a way to preserve and make known parts of the islandʼs history which until now have been accessible only to academics. All proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the Chian Geriatric Foundation and the Chian Federation Scholarship Fund. The literature can be purchased at www.chianfed.org
The Centennial Eleftheria Event will take place on November 11, 2012, with a Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Cathedral (319 East 74th Street, New York, NY) officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios. A Cultural Event celebrating 100 years of Liberation will follow at the Cultural Center of the Chian Federation, 44-01 Broadway, Astoria, NY. The keynote speaker of the event is Dr. Myron Constantinides.
The member societies of the Chian Federation, according to http://www.chianfed.org/mos/content/view/4/28/ include: Adelphotis Pyrgousion “O Pyrgos”;Agios Georgios Sikousis Society; Agios Mamas Society of Afrodisia Chios; Amades Chios Society “St. Kyriaki”; Association Kampiousion Chios; Association of Mesa Didymes and Exo Didymes ; Association of Tholopotamousion; Benevolent Society Vavilousion “Panagia I Krina”; Benevolent Society of Vessa, Chios; Dafnonas Chios Society; Elatousion Society “St. Stefanos” ; Kalamotousion Association “Aghia Paraskevie” ; Karyes Chios Society of New York ; Kourounia Egrigoros Society; Mesta Fraternal Organization; Metropolitan Society of Kardamylians; Mutual Progressive Society Vrontadousion Chiou “Homer”; Neohoriton Society of America; Northern Chios Society “Pelineon”; Parparousion Society “Panagia Pagousena” ; Pispilountianon Society “Saints Constantine & Helen”; Society Agiogalouson Amerikis ; Society Halandron – Kaminiou “Agia Paraskevi”; “St. Emilianos” Benevolent Society of Kallimasia; “St. Symeon” Society of Trypes; Thymiana Chios Society “Agia Ermioni”; Varvasiakos Mikrasiatikos Society Chios and Viki Society “Kimisis Theotokou”.
The Executive Council of the Chian Federation include: Stavros Haviaras, President; Dr. Nicholas Rallis, Executive Vice President; Anna Condoulis, First Vice President; Amalia Bournias, Second Vice President; Mike Frezoulis, Third Vice President; Stefanos Doulos, Fourth Vice President; Anthie Milonas, Executive Secretary; Nikos Papagiannakis, General Secretary; Alex Doulis, Chief Financial Officer; Kostas Almiroudis, Treasurer and John Stoupakis, Assistant Treasurer.
The Women’s Auxiliary Executive Council are the following: Maria Papagiannakis, President; Anna Rallis, Executive Vice President; Koula Kalogera, 1st Vice President; Effie Marie Perrikos, 2nd Vice President; Emily Sgouros, Executive Secretary, Stavroula Zapsas, General Secretary; Eva Katsigeorgis, Treasurer, Styliani Georgaroudis, First Assistant Treasurer and Irini Stefanidis, Second Assistant Treasurer.
The Eleftheria Centennial Committee of The Chian Federation sponsored a National Essay Contest inviting the participation of all High School students, College students and Graduate students. The winners include: Graduate, First Prize, Irene Milonas Maris, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University; Second Prize, Dimas Karideas, Zickland School of Business, Baruch College, CUNY; Third Prize, Christina Kosmidas, Queens College, CUNY; Undergraduate, First Prize, Eric (Kafantaras) Hand, University of Rochester, Second Prize, Daphne Karidas, Adelphi University, Third Prize, Sophia Scoufaras, St. John’s University; High School, First Prize, Angeliki Nikoletta Tsoumpariotis, Herricks High School, Second Prize, Demetrios Kyriannis, Manhasset High School and Third Prize Kira Tsougarakis, Dwight Englewood School. The essays are in the historical 33rd Annual Homeric Award journal. This book should be in the New York City public library system.
Nicholas Poulis, Chairman of the Chios Relief Fund of the Chian Federation, said “We send five thousand a month to Chios for supplies to the soup kitchen. We are feeding 570 families currently.” Members of the Chios Relief Fund include: Dr. Nicholas Rallis, Co-Chairman; Alex Doulis, President of the Chian Geriatric Foundation; Stavros Haviaras, President of the Chian Federation; Maria Papagiannakis, President of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Chian Federation; Members George Almiroudis; Kostas Almiroudis; Amalia bournia; Michael Bournias; Michael Halkias; Koula Kalogera; Vangelis Kavvadas; George Kondolios; George Malafis; Dimitris Mestousis; Michael Theologos and Steve Zervoudis. Visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-Chios-Relief-Fund/113178142139764. For more information please contact the Chian Federation’s office at 718-204-2550, or email@example.com