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Men of Service

By on December 24, 2020
Dimitri C. Michalakis

by Dimitri C. Michalakis

I called to do an interview with Senator Sarbanes several years ago and he called me back in the car while I was driving. “Senator, do you mind if I call you back?” I asked him. “Surely,” he said. I called him later and we did the interview, with him talking not like a senator, but like a very nice man, with a Maryland drawl, who spoke in English, not political boilerplate, and who seemed to give me all the time in the world.

Then I discovered that my tape recorder had recorded nothing. So now how do you call a Unites States senator and take up his precious time asking him to do an interview all over again? I steeled myself and called him. “Surely,” he said, when I told him my request. We did the interview, again, and he showed just as much patience, and gave me just as much time as before.

And when we inaugurated our magazine in New York City and featured his son John as our Person of the Year, he came with his gracious wife, and was as generous and humble with us as I remembered on the phone. I have met my share of politicians, I have met my share of people of consequence, but he was a singular man of consequence, a history-maker for Greek Americans in the Congress, but with all the humility and substance of a truly noble man.

He brought honor to the Senate, a distinguished record of service, and he not only made every Greek American proud, he provided a model of public service that few legislators have equaled.

He worked over a lifetime to make this country better and make us all better. He was one of a kind and a model for all of us. His loss is a loss for all of us.

In the same spirit of service, I’d like to acknowledge the eminent presiding priest of Kimisis Theotokou Church in Brooklyn, New York, the Very Rev. Damaskinos Ganas. A former president of Hellenic College, he has dual master degrees from Hellenic College, as well as degrees from the Teachers Pedagogical School in Thessaloniki, Greece, and did post-graduate work at the Thessaloniki Theological School.

He could have served anywhere, with distinction, and yet he is a man of the people and for the past 35 years he has been the pillar of Kimisis and the face of the parish, who remembers everybody’s name (“I go home at the end of the day and make sure to remember everybody I met that day”), who livens any service with his sermon, and will remember your name when you go up for the antidero, and has performed the miracle of making the parish not only survive, but thrive, through the sheer force of his warmth, personality, and practical skill in keeping the parish solvent.

In common with Senator Sarbanes, he has been a bedrock and inspiration for our community.

Happy Holidays.

Dimitri C. Michalakis

About Dimitri C. Michalakis

Dimitri C. Michalakis is Editor in Chief on NEO Magazine.