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Athenagoras Human Rights Award bestowed upon Admiral Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, on behalf of U.S. Armed Forces
New York, NY
Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with Archons' National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to Admiral James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who accepted on behalf of the heroic members of the United States Armed Forces. Admiral Stavridis is the highest-ranking Greek American in the history of the United States military. The Award was presented during the annual Human Rights Banquet held at the New York Hilton on October 15, 2011, with over 600 Archons and guests in attendance.
Established in 1986, the Athenagoras Human Rights Award is given in honor of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in 1948. He was universally acknowledged as a visionary leader and worked for peace among Churches and people throughout his life. As in the past 12 years, National Vice Commander Nicholas J. Bouras again generously served as Banquet Underwriter.
Admiral Stavridis closed his speech with the valedictory words of Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of Report to Greco and Zorba the Greek, saying, " ‘I want nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.' If we can help create a world without want, a world without fear … we will have created a world where we are free. That is the most important, undeniable, and central human right of all – freedom. Freedom, in the end, is the right to be human.
Archbishop Demetrios, in his response, congratulated "the admirable Admiral" for a "well deserved honor," and conveyed the blessings of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Order of Saint 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 World War II and the invasion of Greece by the Axis armies, the Greek example of military conflict is one of people, small in numbers, who resist submitting themselves and their country to much larger foreign threats and occupation. His Eminence also noted that when Admiral 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 Saint George, items representative of education and faith. Archbishop Demetrios added that in Admiral 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 served in the military service in their time.
The Banquet Program commenced with a welcome from National Secretary John Halecky, Jr. and greetings were offered by Hon. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. 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 Emanuel offered the introduction of the dais guests. Chaplains John Kalantzis and Matthews J. Streett assisted, respectively, in the invocation and benediction.
Once again, Archon Theodore D. Demetriou superbly coordinated the Archon weekend activities as banquet chairman, assisted by Archon Konstantine L. Vellios, who donated the beautiful patriotic floral arrangements.
Earlier in the weekend, the Annual Archon Weekend commenced with an new Archon orientation dinner held on Friday, Oct. 14 beginning with an invocation by His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas, assisted by Chaplain Fr. Milton Gianulis. Members of the National Council and Regional Commanders of the Order of Saint Andrew joined Archons-elect and their spouses for an evening of fellowship and introductions.
Dr. Limberakis extended a warm welcome to all of the Archons and Archon-elect members and offered a dynamic multimedia presentation on the history of The Order, its role as advocate for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the 'humbling recognition and awesome responsibility' the Archon-elect members will now assume. Following his presentation, Dr. Limberakis, extended a surprise birthday tribute to his brother Regional Commander Dr. Cary J. Limberakis who was observing his 60th birthday.
On Saturday morning, the Annual Archon Assembly convened during which the Archon Class of 2011 was formally presented to the Exarch, Archbishop Demetrios of America. During the course of the meeting, various reports were offered. Archon Religious Freedom Chairman John A. Catsimatidis noted the significant advances that have been realized by the Mother Church in advancing its religious freedom as the Archons continued their rigorous domestic and international religious freedom initiatives. A memorial service was also held for departed Archons.
The Saturday afternoon luncheon attended by hierarchs, clergy, Archons, Archons-elect and their families was hosted by Dr. Maria A. Limberakis, wife of the National Commander and the wives of the National Council. Dr. Maria Limberakis offered remarks focusing on the "The Archon Family Perspective" noting that the Archon Offikion is shared by the entire family, along with the serious responsibilities that accompany the oldest honor in Christendom. Archon Congressman Gus Bilirakis offered the keynote address highlighting his efforts in Congress promoting religious freedom and institutional human rights for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On Sunday morning, October 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. New Archons invested include the following:
Mark Adam, Manchester, New Hampshire
Kostandinos M. Arger, M.D., Reno, Nevada
John Avdoulos, Westland, Michigan
Drake G. Behrakis, Watertown, Maine
Jon J. Couchell, Spartanburg, South Carolina
George M. Gazis, Houston Texas
George Gritsonis, Palatine, Illinois
Constantine Kaganis, Bronx, New York
Chris Karamanos, Toms River, New Jersey
Pavlos Kymissis, M.D., Hempstead, New York and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Steven Lukac, Sharon, Pennsylvania
Christopher D. Mandaleris, Greensboro, North Carolina
Markos K. Marinakis, New York, New York
Thomas N. Mitrakos, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Theo Nicolakis, Orange, Connecticut
Harry Oryhon, D.D.S., Palos Park, Illinois
Paul J. Plumis, Seattle, Washington
Reince Priebus, Racine, Wisconsin
John C. Rouman, Ph.D., Dover, New Hampshire
John Sakellaris, Jersey City, New Jersey
Dean G. Skelos, Hempstead, New York
Harry W. Spell, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Christopher J. Spilios, Weston, Massachussetts
Gregory J. Stamos, Orange, Connectictut and Ansonia, Connectictut
Thomas M. Suehs, Austin, Texas
George A. Tsougarakis, Tenafly, New Jersey
Argyris Vassiliou, Stamford, Connecticut and Windham, New York
Peter N. Vastures, Columbus, Ohio
George P. Zaharas, Cheyenne, Wyoming