A skit that was staged by the students of the Schools of St. Demetrios in Astoria gave me chills. It was so realistic.
A young man, the night before he emigrated from Greece, bids farewell to his family and friends. His mother takes off her cross from her neck and puts it around her son’s.
His father advises him to write to his mother as soon as he arrives in America.
And he, after hugging his girlfriend – discretely – takes his suitcase and departs for the long journey.
When he arrives in New York he goes to a restaurant – where else? There, the waitress calls a Greek from the kitchen to help with the translation. “Jimmy” greets him warmly, takes the Ethnikos Kyrix-National Herald that was there, under the counter, and says: “get this newspaper. It will help you find a job and a place to live.”
“What,” he marvels, “you have a newspaper?” “Yes,” he says, “and a good newspaper, indeed.”
Times have certainly changed. But the relationship between the Greek-American community and Herald has not changed.
The program presented by the St. Demetrios students in honor of the 100th anniversary of the newspaper will live with me forever. The National Herald could not receive a greater honor than the gift the children presented to me. Their performances were so wonderful.
Yet with all the the powerful emotions I experienced, a thought seized my mind: yes, indeed, our schools are the hope of the community. They are the incubators of the next generation of Hellenes in America. These are the boys and girls who will grow into men and women and will establish – through their knowledge and convictions – their own identity, and they will build new communities and schools when they start their own families.
From the very beginning, the Herald was a strong supporter of our schools. During my tenure as publisher, amid the great and sometimes tense debate about whether or not the St. Demetrios High School should be built, the newspaper took the right side. We stood on the right side of history.
It was not obvious that the resources existed for creating a school. Nor it was obvious that it would have the support of parents. Yet more than three decades later, it has been proven beyond any doubt that the experiment succeeded. That the “crazy” Nick Andriotis was in fact a man of vision.
I wish you could all have been present at the event the other day: You would not have believed your eyes. You would have seen that our schools and the National Herald play similar roles. You see, the newspaper is also a school. It is an academy of information, language, and knowledge.
It was an emotional day for me.
I thank every child, every faculty member – beginning with the Director of the Schools Anastasios Koularmanis – every parent who attended, and the Chairman of the School Board, the aforementioned Nick Andriotis, for recognizing in such an exemplary way, the contributions that the Ethnikos Kyrix-National Herald has made