The Chian Federation has announced that European Supreme Allied Commander James G. Stavridis, USN, will be the recipient of the 33rd annual Homeric Award given to exceptional individuals in all fields and will be presented to him at the group’s lavish award gala on October 26, 2012 at the Hellenic American Cultural Center of the Chian Federation in Astoria.
by Dimitri C. Michalakis
“We look for recipients who are exceptional in their field and Admiral Stavridis is a towering figure in the U.S. military,” says Markos K. Marinakis, chairman of this year’s Homeric Award Committee. “He has a reputation for getting things done.”
Admiral Stavridis was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in 2009 and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a destroyer captain whose ship won top prize in the Atlantic Fleet during deployments from Haiti to Bosnia to the Arabian Gulf, he commanded the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group in the Arabian Gulf, and he was a strategic planner for the Chief of Naval Operations and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is a graduate of both the Naval and National War Colleges. He is also the author of several books on ships and leadership, including Command at Sea and Destroyer Captain.
“His grandparents left Smyrna in 1922, went to Chios, and finally settled in the U.S.,” says Captain Nicholas Skarvelis, co-chairman of the Federation’s Eleftheria Centennial Committee. “And it is the first time a naval officer has been made head of the European command.”
The Homeric Award was established thirty-three years ago to honor individuals who have shown exceptional leadership in the fields of politics, the arts, education and public service. They were chosen for their abiding commitment to social progress and models of public service. Among the 33 recipients over the years (two years were dedicated to establishing the new Cultural Center) were President Jimmy Carter, Greek Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, UN Ambassador John Negroponte, Lt. General William G. Pagonis, Senator Edward Kennedy, and Archbishop Iakovos among the list of distinguished recipients.
“The Homeric Award is probably the most respected award in the community,” says Marinakis. “And it is one of the oldest. The first one was given on December 17, 1977.”
Former Assemblyman Matthew Mirones will be the master of ceremonies for this year’s award gala and distinguished businessman and Cypriot leader Philip Christopher will give the keynote address.
“Whoever does something for the benefit of others should be honored and distinguished,” says Chairman Marinakis. “Admiral Stavridis’ long years of meritorious service for his country should be honored and acknowledged.”
The Homeric Award gala will begin at 7:30 with cocktails at the Cultural Center located at 44-01 Broadway in Astoria. Ads and messages for the journal can be submitted until October 15 by contacting the Chian Federation by telephone at (718) 204-2550, by fax at (718) 278-6199, or by e-mail to email@example.com.
The Chian Federation represents 26 Chian societies in the Greater New York Metropolitan area. It was founded in 1974, and its cultural center in Astoria has become a focal point of Chian and local cultural and community life. “It’s a very nice facility,” says Captain Skarvelis. There is a library and archives where students can do research and the space for dance troupes to practice and perform (such as the dance troupe of the Woman’s Auxiliary performing at the Homeric Award gala) as well as forother cultural events.
The president of the Federation is Stavros Haviaras and the executive secretary is Anthie Milonas. The Eleftheria Centennial Committee chairman is Markos Marinakis; Amalia Bournias and Captain Skarvelis are co-chairs.
Markos Marinakis on the Homeric Award and the Federation
“The admiral accepted immediately and told us he was very flattered—after, of course, the Federation was investigated by agents of the Navy and the European Command and we passed muster. And he seems very enthusiastic to come to our headquarters to receive the award. We, of course, are very excited to have him…”
“Admiral Stavridis has the reputation of being the 800-pound gorilla of the armed forces—the guy who gets things done...That’s why they made him chief in Europe…”
“We went to Greece to present Karamanlis with the award. Nick Mihalios was the president then. General Pagonis (last year’s recipient)I brought from the Persian Gulf to Chios. When I was making the arrangements, one of his aides said to me, ‘Mr. Marinakis, if possible, General Pagonis would like to stay at a hotel with a swimming pool so he can get his morning exercise.’ I didn’t expect that and I froze. Then Gen. Pagonis himself got on the phone. ‘Listen, Markos, I make decisions that involve the lives of thousands. Before I go to work I like to (clear my head) by doing one or two hours of swimming.’ And then I got a brainstorm. ‘How about a swimming pool, General,’ I said to him, ‘as big as the Bay of Kardamyla?’ And he said, ‘Book me.’”
“In the early days of the organization we knew little but we had energy and the passion to serve. To create this organization was very difficult, but we had people who helped lead the way. Among them are Nick Psaros, Dimitri and Nick Mihalios, and George Andreadis. Mr. George P. Livanos was the formidable force who made it financially possible. He gave us the $100,000 to buy our first building. He was a wonderful and dynamic man. That’s why he was our president for 16 years. And because we respected him, we had harmony and worked together. That’s why the organization is 38 years old, and still vital, and still going strong.”