The president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Andreas Dracopoulos, was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Honor, Greece’s highest civilian honor, by President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday, in a ceremony held at the Presidential Mansion in Athens.
Speaking at the event, Pavlopoulos said the medal was conferred as an expression of gratitude on behalf of the Greek state and nation for the contribution Dracopoulos and the SNF have made to the country: From the huge “gift” of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) to Athens to the recent announcement for a large donation to improve healthcare around the country, it is charity work of a magnitude unseen since the birth of the modern Greek state.
“With this truly massive contribution, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, under your leadership, continues the tradition of national benefactors,” he said.
“Not only is it continuing it, but because of the size of the donations it surpasses this tradition, opens new horizons and constitutes an example to follow for many others.” Pavlopoulos said national benefactors associated their donations with crucial moments during the course of the modern Greek state. “This is also a crucial moment. That’s why your decoration is absolutely justified, ” he added.
Responding to the president’s speech, Dracopoulos started by citing the words of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” He spoke of his uncle, the shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, “who built everything that allows us today to offer positive, long-term changes to society” through the foundation that bears his name, noting that its “guide and compass” has been to strengthen Hellenism and the values it professes “in their purest form.”
“Conscientiousness, bravery, generosity, an open heart, hospitality, a strong and immortal spirit, persistence, temperament, family bonds, the earth, the sun, the light and the sea that determine our DNA, the homesickness, the ability to be reborn again and again from our ashes and build our home, our village, our country from the beginning. Values that have traditionally followed Hellenism wherever it may be, wherever it may come from,” he said.
Dracopoulos said these are the elements the foundation wants to reward through its donations and to promote through the SNF’s work and the work of its “associates,” as he described donees.
“The honor bestowed upon me today is a reward for all of us – Stavros Niarchos, all my colleagues at the foundation and all the donees-associates of the foundation, my family, my friends who have stood by me in my life, through good and bad. It is an honor that I carry in my soul and which I bequeath to my children as a real badge and a reminder that there is no greater thing than the love for one’s country, as each of us defines it,” he continued.
“Our country is our home, it is our homeland, our family and our friends, our country is any land that adopts us, encourages us to create, to offer, to return to it. Our country is our world,” he added.
Dracopoulos dedicated the award to all those who, with conviction and persistence, selflessly go above and beyond to offer help to their fellow citizens, as well as to mobilize, and inspire others.
This article was initially published by ekathimerini.com.