Any reminder that there are good and conscientious people doing their jobs for the Greek state diligently in the right post is good news that gives hope. Greece’s consul general in Boston, Stratos Efthymiou, is one such person, a young and active diplomat who has breathed new life into the post since taking over in 2017. One of his most recent achievements is the granting of honorary Greek citizenship to American photographer Robert McCabe for his service to the country.
Every Greek photography lover knows McCabe’s work. He visited the country for the first time in the 1950s when he was a student at the University of Princeton. He fell in love and started taking photographs of everything he saw: the islands, archaeological sites and monuments, landscapes and people. It was a time when the country was untouched by tourism and largely undeveloped, when hospitality was still genuine and pure, when the lives of many people in far-flung parts lived pretty much the same way as their forefathers centuries before.
McCabe became an ambassador for Greece’s charms, showing the world what made him fall in love with the country so deeply in exhibitions and publications. His marriage to a Greek, Dina, his companion in life and art, just made that love stronger.
He has also supported a number of Greek-American educational institutions, including Athens College, the Gennadius Library and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. McCabe’s family has even bought and restored the residence in Beacon Hill, Boston, of Samuel Gridley Howe, a respected philhellene who fought for the Greeks in the War of Independence in 1824.
Furthermore, McCabe has undertaken a number of initiatives that show his support for the country, including the donation of 35 photographs to the Boston Consulate.
The greatest gift the American photographer has given Greece, however, is sharing his point of view of the country, the way he captured with such respect and admiration ancient sites like Epidaurus and the Acropolis before their restoration, but also humble pictures of day-to-day life, including wooden fishing boats, barber shops and tavernas, presenting scenes of the country that have almost disappeared today.
His most recent projects include a wonderful coffee-table book on the Strofades Monastery on an islet off the coast of the Ionian island of Zakynthos that was damaged in an earthquake in 2018; a book on the holiday island of Mykonos; and another on Santorini before the devastating 1956 earthquake, which just came off the press and will be available in Greece and the US in a few weeks’ time.
This article was originally published at ekathimerini.com.