ΑΩ International online magazine 
Issue 09, July 2008
homepage > American Hellenic Institute award to the Onassis Foundation
American Hellenic Institute award
to the Onassis Foundation
<em>Left to right</em>, Dennis Houston of  Exxon Mobil with his wife, Mr. Anthony Papadimitrou, the Onassis Foundation  Board members, ambassadors Lucas Tsilas and Michael Sotirchos, the managing  director of Olympic Agencies Lucas Tsangaridis, and Mr. Eugene Rossides

Very solemnly but also very movingly, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), at its annual dinner held in Washington, DC, on 15 March 2008, honoured the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, in the person of its president Anthony Papadimitriou, for the ‘national service it has offered to Greeks and Hellenism for over three decades' by preserving and promoting the Greek culture and heritage.

 
 

In presence of two thousand distinguished members of the Greek communities of North America, the director of the Institute, Mr. Eugene Rossides, spoke in praise of the Onassis Foundation's many years of constant public service. ‘I regard,' he said, ‘the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation as the most significant cultural link between metropolitan Greece and Greek-Americans. The American society enthusiastically attends the Foundation's events, making us particularly proud.'

The reason for bestowing this award upon the Onassis Foundation was explained by the distinguished jurist and AHI president I. Marketos. More specifically, Mr. Marketos referred to the Foundation's history and pointed out that its aim can be most characteristically described by Socrates' famous phrase: ‘I am not only Greek, but a citizen of the world.' Likewise, added Mr. Marketos, ‘the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation does not only belong to the Greeks living in Greece or America, but it also belongs to all the world citizens that share common ideas and visions about Culture, Solidarity, Peace, Education and Humanistic Ideals. The Foundation is distinguished for its passionate promotion of artistic creation and humanism, and was therefore chosen by the AHI award committee, whose members are famous Greek-American scientists and important businessmen.'

<em>Left to right</em>, Dennis Houston of  Exxon Mobil with his wife, Mr. Anthony Papadimitrou, the Onassis Foundation  Board members, ambassadors Lucas Tsilas and Michael Sotirchos, the managing  director of Olympic Agencies Lucas Tsangaridis, and Mr. Eugene Rossides
Left to right, Dennis Houston of Exxon Mobil with his wife, Mr. Anthony Papadimitrou, the Onassis Foundation Board members, ambassadors Lucas Tsilas and Michael Sotirchos, the managing director of Olympic Agencies Lucas Tsangaridis, and Mr. Eugene Rossides

In his address to the members and friends of the Institute, the president of the Onassis Foundation, Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou, briefly referred to the establishment of the Foundation, pointing out that he is ‘the fourth president to undertake its direction ― after Christina Onassis, Ioannis Georgakis and Stelio Papadimitriou,' and that ‘the honour for the creation and success of the Foundation also belongs to the previous generation of the people who established it: Stelio Papadimitriou, Paul Ioannidis and Apostolos Zabelas.' He also explained that Aristotle Onassis bequeathed to the Foundation the part of his estate that his son, Alexander, would have taken. ‘Only in this way could Onassis honour the memory of his child, by actually continuing his work in the business world. Indeed, Onassis' spirit is still alive thanks to the Business Foundation, which offers 40% of its profits to the Public Benefit Foundation, supporting the humanistic aims it unswervingly pursues, as these were defined according to the wishes of the testator, in his will.' ‘Thus far,' added Mr. Papadimitriou, ‘we have spent on public benefit projects an amount of money which is twice as high as the capital bequeathed to the Foundation by Aristotle Onassis ― and indeed I can tell you that, thanks to good management and effective business moves, we have increased the initial capital tenfold, thus ensuring the Foundation's unhindered future work, which is to serve humanity, culture, Greek ideals, historical memory, artistic creation, education and Orthodox Christianity at an international level.'

Subsequently, Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou mentioned some of the projects funded by the Onassis Foundation, which has also undertaken their systematic supervision using its own means, such as the Onassion Heart Surgery Centre, the Onassis Home of Letters and Fine Arts, the Nafplion branch of the National Gallery, the excavation of the proto-Christian Church of Saint Nicholas in Myra, Asia Minor, the Church of the Annunciation in Alexandria, the road and water networks in several Greek community villages in Albania, the relief offered to the victims of last summer's disastrous forest fires in Greece, as well as several environmental conservation projects. He also referred to the Onassis Foundation Scholarship Programmes, the funding of university chairs and programmes of Greek Studies around the world, the International Onassis Prizes, and the collaboration between the affiliated Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which significantly contributes to the promotion of the Greek language in schools.

Besides, he added, the exhibitions organised each year at the Onassis Cultural Centre in New York, such as the recent one about the Minoan Civilisation, highlight the most interesting historical and artistic aspects of the Greek Spirit, thus attracting the attention of thousands of visitors. ‘Your recognition of our work encourages us to continue offering more and more, for Greece, Greek-Americans and the entire Greek Diaspora, aiming to preserve the Greek heritage in the most appropriate way,' concluded the president of the Onassis Foundation.

During the same ceremony, awards were also bestowed, for their services to the Greeks and the Greek Diaspora, upon the Archbishop Demetrios of America, the president of the Organisation for the Preservation of the Greek Heritage, Ms. Anna Lia, the well-known actress Melina Kanakaridi and the Ohio Senator Zack Space, whose family originates from the Greek island of Ikaria.

The event was attended by American officials, ambassadors, the Greek-American candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as several Greek-American scientists, famous artists, journalists and important businessmen.

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Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation | Tel. +30 210 3713000 | Fax. +30 210 3713013 | Email: pubrel@onassis.gr