New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
When Turkey invaded Cyprus, on July 20, 1974, following the Coup of the military Junta in Athens, Hellenism was fortunate enough to have in the U.S. House of Representatives two of their own; John Brademas and Paul Sarbanes. Both Democrats and opponents of the military junta and of the Nixon Administration, who mobilized Congress against the gross violation of the U.S. laws, the International laws and Human Rights and helped, mobilize the Greek American Community with the assistance of people like Archbishop Iakovos, Gene Rossides, Andrew Athens, George Livanos, Andrew Manatos, Philip Christopher.
On Sunday, December 6, 2020, one of these giants, former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes passed away, at 87. Eleven years earlier he had lost his lovely wife Christine and he was never the same.
His eldest son, Congressman John Sarbanes announcing his father’s passing said:
“My father, Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, passed away peacefully this evening in Baltimore. Our family is grateful to know that we have the support of Marylanders who meant so much to him and whom he was honored to serve. Following state, local and public health guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our family will hold a private service in the coming days.”
Few months earlier, two more of the protagonists of the days of 1974, comrades-in-arms of Senator Sarbanes, former Congressman John Brademas and American Hellenic Institute Founder Gene Rossides, passed away without seeing Cyprus free of Turkish troops. As they did Nicos Mouyiaris, Andrew Athens, Archbishop Iakovos, George Livanos.
HELLENISM MOURNS ITS HERO
Greek American organizations, along with his former colleagues in Congress and the leaderships in Greece and Cyprus issued messages of condolences for Paul Sarbanes, the first Greek American who became U.S. Senator.
AHEPA Mourns Passing of
Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes
Supreme President George G. Horiates issued a statement on the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, a recipient of the 1993 AHEPA Socrates Award and AHEPA Life Member:
“Ahepans mourn profoundly the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, a titan of the American Hellenic community who, as the son of Greek immigrants, learned the values of hard work and education from his parents and became a staunch defender of his heritage. He fulfilled the American Dream by dedicating his life selflessly to public service, including becoming Maryland’s first five-term U.S. senator; and to championing Hellenic ideals.
“As a member of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, Sarbanes’ strong advocacy for the policy priorities of the American Hellenic community included the enactment of the arms embargo on Turkey following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
“Our Order is forever grateful to Senator Sarbanes for passing a concurrent resolution in the 106th U.S. Congress that recognized and honored AHEPA members for their services in the U.S. Armed Forces and that acknowledged the presentation of the AHEPA Medal for Military Service to the community’s veterans (video).
“AHEPA is also honored and thankful that Senator Sarbanes commemorated the 75th anniversary of AHEPA with an entry into the Congressional Record of the 105th Congress of the late Past Supreme President James Scofield’s historically-important piece, “Forgotten History: The Klan vs. Americans of Hellenic Heritage in an Era of Hate.” The piece details AHEPA’s founding and educated a generation of Greek Americans about a little-known, yet critical, aspect of the community’s history.
“Senator Sarbanes was a constant presence at AHEPA Grand and Congressional Banquets for decades, sharing his wisdom and passion for Hellenic ideals that united all of us—education, civic duty, philanthropy. Ahepans especially shared with Brother Sarbanes an appreciation for the value of education and in meetings and gatherings he always took an interest in AHEPA’s educational and cultural programs, especially the Journey to Greece.
Brother Sarbanes will be missed greatly. Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the Sarbanes Family. May his memory be eternal.”
In 1993, AHEPA presented Senator Sarbanes with the Order’s most distinguished award, The Socrates Award. At the time, Senator Sarbanes was America’s highest elected official of Greek descent.
In acceptance, Senator Sarbanes quoted Classicist and Author Edith Hamilton’s observation on Greeks: “Freedom was a Greek discovery. The Greeks were the first free nation in the world. Greece rose because there was in the Greeks the greatest spirit that moves in humanity…the spirit that makes men free,” and he added, “It is the high standards of AHEPA which makes this Socratic Award a great honor which I receive with pride and gratitude and humility. But more importantly which I accept, in tribute and in honor of that courageous immigrant generation, my parents, who came to a new land to create opportunities for their children, in belief that if they gave them freedom, they would put it to good use.”
AHI Mourns Passing of Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes
The American Hellenic Institute has issued a statement on the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland:
“The American Hellenic Institute deeply mourns the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said.
“Senator Sarbanes exemplified Hellenic ideals to the fullest extent. He excelled as a public servant, valued the importance of education, culture, and the arts, and was a true champion of the Rule of Law. These were values instilled in him as the son of Greek immigrants.
“Without Senator Sarbanes’ strong advocacy, and the respect he garnered during his service and a leader in Congress, the community’s effort to impose an arms embargo on Turkey, following Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, would not have been a success. Together with the late founder of AHI, Eugene T. Rossides, we were proud to work with then-Congressman Paul Sarbanes on this most substantial policy achievement. We will forever be grateful for his staunch and unwavering support for the Greek American community’s policy issues, especially during his tenure serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Senator Sarbanes will always be remembered fondly by the American Hellenic Institute and its members for his devotion to AHI, the Rule of Law, and to Hellenism for which we are deeply grateful and from which we all benefited. We were honored to present him with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award in 1992. He also keynoted and addressed several AHI forums, conferences, and events and contributed to AHI’s one-hour documentary, ‘Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure.’
“Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with Congressman John Sarbanes, who carries Senator Sarbanes’ legacy, and the entire Sarbanes family. May his memory be eternal.”
Statement of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
The falling asleep in the Lord of Senator Paul Sarbanes is a profound moment in the consciousness of our Holy Archdiocese, which marks the passing of a true giant of the Omogeneia and the Nation. There are so many who have stood on his shoulders and seen farther and clearer than they could have ever imagined. Paul Sarbanes was the proud son of immigrants from Greece, whose vision for the future found a sweeping panorama of the American dream in their son, who went on an exceptional educational journey from Princeton, to Oxford, to Harvard, and whose trajectory was a life of exemplary and extraordinary public service.
It is very difficult to speak of Senator Sarbanes’ accomplishments, as they are virtually numberless; but through them all, he was a devoted husband and father, a devout Orthodox Christian, a faithful member of the Church, and a prudent, humble, and diligent servant of the People of his beloved Maryland and the American Nation.
His devotion to the freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his concern for his ancestral home of Greece, as well as for Cyprus, merit special praise. He kept a close eye on affairs across the Atlantic, being ever-vigilant for the interests of his brethren in Faith and Patrida, even as he dedicated his tireless efforts in the halls of Congress for the betterment of all his fellow human beings.
We are all better people for his life and his enormous contributions to our world. As his children and grandchildren mourn his passing, we offer them our heartfelt consolations on behalf of the entire Greek Orthodox Church of America, joining with them in prayer and in thankfulness for a life so very well lived, which was such a precious gift to them and to us all. May his memory be eternal.
Menendez Statement on Passing of Former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement on the passing of former Senator Paul S. Sarbanes:
> “It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of former Senator Paul Sarbanes, a devoted public servant whose groundbreaking efforts continue to preserve and defend the wellbeing and interests of the United States today.
> “I am fortunate enough to have served in Congress alongside Paul and to witness his deep and abiding belief in serving with purpose and pride. From his leadership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to his championing of major corporate oversight reforms, he leaves a legacy of dedication and commitment to our nation and to the people he proudly represented. Senator Sarbanes’ passion for honoring the culture, heritage and contributions of the Hellenic community will live on as an extraordinary example to follow.
> “I extend my sincerest condolences to the Sarbanes family. My thoughts are with them and with the entire Hellenic community during this moment of great loss. Let us remember his life as a testament to what is possible and take it as a challenge to continue the many causes he championed.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney Mourns the Loss of Senator Paul Sarbanes
“Yesterday, our country lost an iconic legislator and leader. Senator Paul Sarbanes dedicated his career to bettering the lives of all Marylanders and Americans with his remarkable vision and consistent message of unity. I and so many others are lucky to have called Sen. Sarbanes a friend and colleague. He was a champion for Greece and Cyprus, and it was my honor to work with him to further the Greek-American relationship, as well as on financial services issues. The transformational Sarbanes-Oxley Act reshaped corporate oversight and has helped to protect hardworking Americans and prevent fraud for nearly two decades. The countless lives he shaped and the legislation he helped pass will undoubtedly be felt throughout our country for generations to come, especially as we begin the 117th Congress.”
Senator Chris Van Hollen Statement on Passing of U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement on the passing of U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.):
“Today we mourn the loss of the son of Greek immigrants who rose from humble roots on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to make an important and lasting impact on our entire country and help millions of his fellow Americans – Paul Sarbanes. Both during his time serving in the House of Delegates and as our state’s second-longest serving United States Senator, Paul Sarbanes was a tireless advocate on behalf of all Marylanders. His leadership in preserving the Chesapeake Bay, expanding access to affordable housing, and protecting Main Street investors in the bill that bears his name, Sarbanes-Oxley, are enduring testaments to his legacy of positive change. Paul was known for always doing his homework and for his sharp questioning – woe to the witness who appeared before his committees unprepared.
“On a personal note, I will never forget Paul’s kindness when I worked with him as a staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1980s, or his mentorship during my first term in the House, and his willingness to offer advice and counsel when I was elected to the Senate in 2016. He was a role model for me and so many others who believe that public service is a noble calling. Katherine and I send our condolences to his children John, Michael, and Janet, to his brother Tony, and to all of Paul’s family during this difficult time. Paul Sarbanes left a legacy of compassion, integrity, humility, and hard work that Marylanders will never forget.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Senator Paul Sarbanes’s 40 years of tireless service, as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, strengthened our nation and made a difference in the lives of countless Americans.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis
Please join me in sending thoughts & prayers to @JohnSarbanes
& the entire Sarbanes family as they mourn the loss of Fmr. Senator Paul Sarbanes. Paul honorably served the people of Maryland in the Senate for 30 years. I will always cherish the friendship he shared with my family.
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State designate
As staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee I had the privilege of watching Paul Sarbanes in action. A fierce intelligence married to deep principle — and the best questioner on the committee. My thoughts are w/John and his entire family.
Statement from NY Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris on the Passing of Senator Paul Sarbanes
Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris issued the following statement upon the passing of former Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes.
“Senator Paul Sarbanes will be sorely missed in our nation and especially within the Greek-American community. He was a true exemplar of honorable public service who stood up to powerful interests – drafting the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon and tackling corporate power after the fall of Enron. As the son of Greek immigrants, he knew that America is at its best when it is inclusive and welcoming of others. It was a privilege to know Senator Sarbanes and I extend my deepest condolences to Congressman John Sarbanes and the entire Sarbanes family.”
Former U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns
Saddened by the death of Senator Paul Sarbanes. He was a prince of a man. Highly intelligent and ethical, a leader who put people and good government first. I’ll always be grateful for his advice and unstinting support when I was Ambassador to Greece.
Deputy Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis
Friend, mentor and role model for so many of us in the Greek American community. We will miss you Senator Paul Sarbanes.
Hellenic America Leadership Council
HALC mourns the passing of Senator Paul Sarbanes, a hero of Hellenism. May his memory be eternal.
Former Ambassador Andrew Jacovides
Very sorry to hear- he was great help and we worked closely together in my 14 years as Ambassador in Washington but first met him at the Harvard Law School (class of 1960). Dukakis was also there the same time..
America Jewish Committee CEO David Harris
Paul Sarbanes, 1933-2020. Proud son of Greek immigrants, he was a Harvard Law grad & Rhodes Scholar. For 36 yrs, admired US Congressman, Senator from Maryland. Friend of Jewish community. His vision helped deepen Greece, Cyprus –Israel –US. His legacy endures.
President of Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou
We bid farewell to Senator Paul Sarbanes, a bright man of US politics who kept Greece close at his heart. He remained a staunch supporter of Greek interests until the end and was always there when our nation needed him. My deepest condolences to @RepSarbanes and his family.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Senator Paul Sarbanes was a towering figure in US politics and a strong advocate of Greek issues, for which Greece will always be grateful. He will be greatly missed. My sincere condolences to @RepSarbanes
and his family.
President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades
I was informed with deep sorrow the passing of the good friend of Cyprus and Hellenism, the Greek American former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes; who has defended with his positions and interventions the rights of Cyprus. Our sincere condolences to the family of Congressman John Sarbanes.
Paul Sarbanes Obituary at the Baltimore Sun, by Jeff Barker
Longtime U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes was remembered Monday as a son of Greek immigrants who championed Chesapeake Bay preservation and other Maryland causes while remaining an unpretentious “stealth senator” in a body known for self-promotion.
“He was not a press conference kind of guy. It was unique,” said former U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, for whom Sarbanes served as a mentor after she was elected in 1986. “He was one of the most unpretentious colleagues I ever knew. Paul and I called ourselves the ‘Diner Democrats.’ We would razz [Jay] Rockefeller and [Ted] Kennedy. We called them the ‘Dynasty Democrats.’”
Sarbanes, 87, died Sunday night, said his son, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District.
Sarbanes had been living at Roland Park Place, a retirement community in North Baltimore.
“He watched the Georgia Senate debate the night he passed away,” Mikulski said Monday after talking with John Sarbanes. “I knew he was not well.”
John Sarbanes’ congressional office did not disclose a cause of death or where his father died, but said in a statement Sunday night that the elder Sarbanes “passed away peacefully this evening in Baltimore.”
In his 30 years in the Senate, Sarbanes worked on bay restoration and the protection of the estuary’s trails and waterways, helped protect consumers’ privacy in banking, and became a key figure in high-profile congressional investigations from Watergate to Iran-Contra to Whitewater.
A workhorse with a consistently liberal voting record, Sarbanes in 2000 became the state’s first U.S. senator to win a fifth term. Democrat Millard E. Tydings had served four terms, ending in 1951.
“Our family is grateful to know that we have the support of Marylanders who meant so much to him and whom he was honored to serve,” John Sarbanes’ statement said.
Republicans called him a “stealth” or “phantom” senator. It’s an image Sarbanes was at peace with. He laughed about it during a 2005 interview with The Baltimore Sun and hinted his invisibility had been part of a strategy over the years. Stealth, Sarbanes said, is “one of the most important weapons in our military arsenal … If you let somebody else take the credit, you can get the result.”
“He was not a flashy senator,” said Maryland Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller. “He was not a show horse.”
“He was not known for putting in a lot of bills — but what bills he did put in, he made sure they got passed and he made sure that they were pieces of legislation that had a positive effect on our state and on our budget,” said Miller, a Democrat.
The senator’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 established an independent oversight board to rein in accounting abuses. It also restricted the ability of accounting firms to provide consulting services to public companies they audit.
The bill helped protect “Main Street investors,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who was elected in 2016 to succeed Mikulski. He said Sarbanes was “a role model for me.”
Sarbanes also worked to expand affordable housing and to stabilize the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
Gov. Larry Hogan called Sarbanes a “passionate advocate” for Maryland and ordered the state flag be flown at half-staff on the day Sarbanes is buried. The Republican governor noted that his father, Larry Hogan Sr., served on the House Judiciary Committee with Sarbanes during the Watergate scandal. The elder Hogan also unsuccessfully challenged Sarbanes for his Senate seat in 1982.
The Watergate scandal broke in the middle of Sarbanes’ freshman House term. Sarbanes drafted the first article of impeachment against Republican President Richard M. Nixon, accusing Nixon of obstructing justice. Nixon was accused of multiple abuses of power, including the use of government agencies to harass political enemies and to interfere with an FBI investigation of a break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
Later, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, staff director Antony Blinken, now Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, said he watched Sarbanes in action.
“A fierce intelligence married to deep principle — and the best questioner on the committee,” Blinken said Monday in a tweet.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who won Sarbanes’ seat when he retired, said his predecessor “set new, needed standards for transparency and good governance.”
“Maryland mourns the loss of an incredible public servant and champion of the Chesapeake Bay,” Cardin tweeted Monday.
The Chesapeake Conservancy recognized Sarbanes’ efforts to improve the bay’s health. He was a member of the nonprofit group’s board of directors.
“While in the Maryland General Assembly, he co-authored the legislation that enabled Program Open Space, and while in the U.S. Senate, he co-authored the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Restoration Act, both of which have been instrumental in helping to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said in a statement Monday.
“Senator Sarbanes often said, ‘If a state could have a soul, Maryland’s would be the Chesapeake.’ Last night, the Chesapeake lost one of its most dedicated advocates.”
Born in Salisbury on Feb. 3, 1933, Sarbanes was the prototype of the self-made American. He grew up around the restaurant owned by his parents, Spyros and Matina.
Sarbanes and Mikulski were “retail,” said Mikulski, whose parents owned a grocery. “We were raised on ‘Good morning, can I help you?’ Everything he did was based on civility. He insisted on intellectual rigor and a respect for others.”
Sarbanes helped Mikulski land a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, advocating for her with then-Democratic leader Robert Byrd and advising her on strategy.
Sarbanes landed a scholarship to Princeton University and went on to become a Rhodes scholar. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1960, the same year he married his British-born wife, Christine.
Baltimore Sun’s 2019 Business and Civic Hall of Fame honoree: Paul S. Sarbanes »
Sarbanes entered politics in 1966 with a successful bid for the Maryland House of Delegates, and four years later won election to Congress. After three terms in the U.S. House, he moved to the Senate, defeating former Sen. Joseph Tydings in the primary and unseating Republican Sen. J. Glenn Beall in November.
Sarbanes’ wife, a retired educator, died in 2009.
“Life was not the same for him when Christine died. They were just like a dream team,” Mikulski said. “He said, ‘On every Friday night, we get carryout Thai food from Greenmount Avenue and we read poetry to each other.’ It brings tears to my eyes just to tell that story.”