41st Congressional Banquet Honors  Excellence and Service in the Community

   Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.20.58 AM  WASHINGTON, DC- The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a leading membership-based association for the nation’s millions American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, held its 41st Biennial Congressional Banquet, April 29, 2015, at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Washington, DC.  Nearly 400 leaders of the Greek American community from across the United States and Canada were on-hand to salute excellence and service in the community.

The honorees were:

·         U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), 2015 AHEPA Pericles Award  [presented by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD)];

·         Ambassador Robert W. Peck, ambassador of Canada to the Hellenic Republic, 2015 AHEPA Aristotle Award (presented by AHEPA Canadian President Ken Matziorinis);

·         The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, 2015 AHEPA Archbishop Iakovos Humanitarian Award, accepted by Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis, senior advisor to the Board of Directors and member of the Executive Management Team of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (presented by AHEPA National Educational Foundation Secretary George Vorkas);

·         Col. Alan C. Macaulay, (USMC ret.), 2015 AHEPA Military Medal of Honor [presented by AHEPA Public Policy Chairman Carl Hollister (Maj., U.S. Army, ret)];

·         Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, 2015 Daughters of Penelope Civic Responsibility Award (presented by Daughters of Penelope Grand President Anna-Helene Grossomanides); and

·         AHEPA Past Supreme President Gus J. James, II, 2015 AHEPA Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by Supreme President Phillip T. Frangos).

  Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.21.04 AM   In acceptance remarks, the honorees shared their inspirational personal stories of triumph over adversity and reflected upon the importance of public service and community service.  They also expressed gratitude toward the AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope for promoting these principles.

     In his introduction of Congressman Lewis, Congressman Sarbanes described him as “A hero of our time and of all time.”  In addition to the Pericles Award, Congressman Lewis was presented with a custom-framed copy of the historic March 26, 1965 issue of Life Magazine “Memorial at Selma” with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos on the cover.  The inscription written on the frame stated in part, “In Commemoration of the Unity of the African American and Greek Communities.”

     “When Dr. Martin Luther King issued a call, members of your church responded, and we will never forget it,” Congressman Lewis said. “And fifty years later you came to Selma to walk with us. Thank you.”

·         WATCH: Presentation of Pericles Award to Congressman Lewis (courtesy of Greek American News TV/GreekNews Online)

     The banquet program included a Keynote Address from His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and Response from Supreme President Phillip T. Frangos.  Ahepan Jim Vlassopoulos, retired deputy fire chief, Washington, DC Fire & EMS Department; and Dianne Katsakis Quebral, corporate social responsibility program manager at Fairfax County, Virginia; made a special presentation to support the participation of police officers and firefighters from Greece in the Fairfax 2015 World Police & Fire Games.

     Due to votes in congress, U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis shared duties as the master of ceremonies.  Banquet Chairman Andy Zachariades, supreme secretary, welcomed the audience.  His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios provided the Invocation and Benediction. The guests were treated to patriotic music from “The President’s Own” United States Marine Corps Band under the direction of MSgt Duane F. King, which also performed the Star-Spangled Banner. The United States Marine Corps Color Guard presented the Colors.

     Several dignitaries attended the banquet, including members of Congress.  Among the dignitaries were: Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos and Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. George Chacalli, both of who offered greetings; U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member, Committee on the Budget; U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL); U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL); former U.S. Rep. Zack Space; and George A. Kalogridis, president, Walt Disney World Resort.

      Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, to protect individuals from the evils of bigotry and discrimination, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, Greece and Cyprus.  The mission of AHEPA is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education,Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.

      For more information, please visit www.ahepa.org.