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march 2004

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Olympian Tom Pappas proudly displays the 2004 Harry Agganis Award. 
 With him are (l-r): Archbishop Demetrios, Supreme President A. Jack Georgalas,  Pappas, and Supreme Vice President Franklin Manios.

 WASHINGTON- The Olympic Spirit was alive and well at the 36th AHEPA

Biennial National Banquet, February 16, 2004.  The program was themed "Honoring the  Olympic Spirit" and it featured a variety of Olympians of Greek heritage  from different generations, from the world's oldest living Olympian, Peter

 Clentzos, to this summer's favorite to win Gold in the Decathlon, U.S.

World Champion Tom Pappas.


 Pappas was honored with the Harry Agganis Award for excellence in the

Field  of athletics.  The 26 year old is the reigning World Champion in the

 Decathlon and the Indoor Heptathlon.


 The six-foot five-inch, 210-pound champion stood like a giant when called

To the podium by Supreme Vice President Franklin Manios to receive the Harry

 Agganis Award.


 "I'll do everything I can to bring the Gold home," he said.  Pappas was

 grateful to AHEPA for its support of him and his siblings throughout their

 athletic careers.


 Professional Excellence, AHEPA Saluted

 Two other outstanding Greek Americans received accolades that evening:

Mr. Andrew S. Natsios, administrator, United States Agency for International

 Development (USAID) and Dr. E.G. Stassinopoulos, astrophysicist, National

 Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


 Natsios was the recipient of the Archbishop Iakovos Humanitarian Award for

 his work in leading USAID during the past three years.  He also served as

 the Master of Ceremonies.


 "He is responsible for the oversight of the monumental task of providing

 economic and humanitarian assistance to over 100 countries in order to

make a better life for all," said Supreme President A. Jack Georgalas in his

 surprise presentation of the award to Natsios.  "It is our honoree, Mr

 Natsios, himself a member of AHEPA, who represents the United States in

all of these worthy endeavors, and we are proud of him."


 Dr. Stassinopoulos was the recipient of the Aristotle Award for the

 international recognition received for his scientific work by his

colleagues and for excellence in his profession.  An employee of NASA for 43 years,

he has had many achievements during his career.


 Visibly moved by the award, he expressed his gratitude to AHEPA, to his

 colleagues and to his family for the honor.  Dr. Stassinopoulos also

offered his respects to those whose path he followed.


 "I would like to pay my respects to our great Hellenic forefathers who

laid the foundations upon which subsequent generations met the alienisms of

 science, medicine, engineering, and technology that have flourished

 throughout modern culture," he said.  "As a youth, I read with pride about

 the discoveries, inventions and achievements of our fellow Hellenes."


 Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) praised AHEPA for its charitable,

 educational, and civic work.  Specifically, the senior senator from

Maryland touched upon the AHEPA's Senior Housing Program, Scholarship Program, and

 the diligent work of the organization's Cyprus and Hellenic Affairs



 Sen. Sarbanes also addressed the enormous challenges facing Greece on the

 eve of the Olympic Games, especially one of the smallest countries to host

 the Games, but added that he feels that Greece will do a wonderful job.


 "I look forward to Greece staging a wonderful Olympics," he said.


 Keynote Speaker Professor Alexander Kitroeff provided an eloquent

 description of the history of the revival of the modern Olympic Games and

 the contributions of the Diaspora Greeks to the Modern Games.  As the

author of the newly released book "Wrestling with the Ancients: Modern Greek

 Identity and the Olympics," Prof. Kitroeff's keynote address was as timely

 as it was germane to the theme of the banquet.



 "The Greek Diaspora has played a crucial role in Greece's efforts to

support the revival of the Ancient Games, off the athletic field but also on it,"

he said.


 His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios masterfully tied in one of the great

 attributes of the Olympic Movement with the theme of the evening-the

 principle of peace.


 "We see the Olympics as an opportunity by projecting this highest possible

 human value," said His Eminence.  "Here, tonight, by dedicating this

evening to the spirit of the Olympics, you dedicate the evening to the spirit of

 human excellence, and to the spirit of a constant unyielding pursuit of

 peace, here and everywhere."


 In concluding remarks, Supreme President A. Jack Georgalas offered that

the program brought to the forefront the invaluable contributions of the

ancient Greeks through those who were represented on the dais that evening.


 "We have outstanding examples of Hellenes who represent the best of what

our ancestors contributed to Western Civilization," he said.  "We have with us

 fine individuals who lead in government, athletics, civic service, the

 sciences, education, and in Hellenism."


 As a prelude to the program, the angelic voices of children, some of who

 were not Greek, projected Olympic hymns and anthems that entertained the

 audience.  They also reenacted a stirring rendition of the ceremonial

Torch lighting that is held in Olympia prior to each Olympic Games.  Banquet

 Chairman and Chapter 31 President Tassos Vassilas organized this endearing

 portion of the program.


 A Greek American, Staff Sgt. William Kanteres, led "The President's Own"

 United States Marine Corps Band which played patriotic hymns and state

songs that excited the crowd upon their entrance into the ballroom.