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January 2008

Homeric Award to Eugene Rossides

Eugene Rossides, the first Greek American presidential appointee ever to be confirmed by the United States Senate and legendary starting quarterback of the Columbia University’s Lions famous team, was the 30th recipient of the prestigious Homeric Award, the highest distinction of the Chian Federation of America, presented “to individuals who have demonstrated an advocacy for human rights, the rule of law and democratic ideals and have worked in strengthening relations between the United States and Greece,” in the words of the organization’s President George Almyroudis.

The late Archbishop Iakovos, the late President Konstantinos Karamanlis, Senators Snowe and Schumer, John Brademas, the first Greek-American to be elected in Congress, are some of the 30 so far personalities honored with the Homeric Award, established in 1977.

The lavish ceremony, at the Federation’s impressive Chian Cultural Center in Astoria was preceded by a press conference during which Mr. Rossides urged Greek Americans to become more active at the upcoming election season. Markella Garris chaired the Gala committee, comprising Amalia Bournias, Andreas Kokkodis, Demetris Mestousis and Manolis Sazaklis.

Eugene Rossides was born in Brooklyn and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia College in 1949 and then, in 1952, a Juris Doctor degree at the internationally renowned Columbia Law School. He served for four years as starting quarterback of the Columbia Lions famous team under the guidance of coach Lou Little, achieving feats that even today, more than fifty years later, are hard to replicate, and have become part of American football lore.

After graduation, he practiced trade and tariff law at the renowned firm of Rogers & Wells, one of the most prestigious in the world, and became an expert in this critical specialty. He served justice in the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York, and in 1969, the President of the United States appointed him to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, where he served until 1973.

By becoming the first Greek American presidential appointee ever to be confirmed by the United States Senate, he became a symbol for the great achievements of generations of Greek immigrants and their offspring.

His love of justice and of his heritage made him take a leading role in the long and hard effort to achieve a just resolution to the invasion and continuing occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey. Immediately following the invasion of 1974, he formed the American Hellenic Institute and based his efforts on the blatant illegality of the act and the measures that he felt had to be taken by the United States in light of that illegality.

Since its founding, the American Hellenic Institute has expanded its scope to become a focal point for cultural, social, intellectual, and public policy activity for thousands of Greek Americans across the United States. Also, AHI has contributed greatly in cementing good relations between Greece and the United States.

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