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Nikos Mouyiaris — a 21st Century Themistocles

Wednesday, November 11, 2015  | 

This past Saturday, Cosmos F.M. bestowed its 2015 Phidippides award on HALC’s founder Nikos Mouyiaris.  His contributions to the community – via the establishment of HALC, his support of the Odysseus Elytis Chair at Rutgers University, and other civic activism – were highlighted that night, and Nikos put quite an exclamation point on the awards ceremony by delivering a speech that both inspired and delivered a challenge to the community.

I know some will read this and protest that since Nikos is the founder and leading benefactor of HALC and a close friend that my opinion should be discounted here.  Furthermore, given that the community bestows multiple honors every year, why are we focusing on this one at this time?

First of all, despite the detailing of all of Nikos’ contributions to the community on Saturday night, I am not convinced that even those honoring him were fully aware of how deserving he is.  Yes, Nikos contributes generously, widely and consistently, but people should really pay attention to the rest of what he does.  In the The Colossus of Maroussi, Henry Miller says: It is glorious to offer one’s life for a cause, but dead men accomplish nothing. Life demands that we offer something more – spirit, soul, intelligence, goodwill.

Replace the concept of offering one’s life for a cause with offering one’s treasure, and you start realizing how special Nikos is.  Just consider the last three years.  With his checkbook he helped establish HALC, endowed the Elytis Chair, joined The Hellenic Initiative, was one of the biggest and most consistent givers to philhellenic candidates for office, helped SOS Children’s Villages Greece at a critical time.  With his spirit, soul, intelligence and goodwill, he motivated the staff and the members of HALC – many involved in the community for the first time – to aspire and keep raising the bar in everything we do.  He followed up his gift to SOS Children’s Villages with a visit to one of their facilities in Greece.  He communicated constantly with the causes that he supported, offering guidance, introductions and most of all, encouragement.  But one had to really be in awe of Nikos on September 30 and October 1 – during the Stand with Greece Summit.  The Summit – an initiative that HALC kicked off with the Hellenic Caucus — was made possible because of his contributions to HALC (and his sponsorship of the opening reception).  But Nikos did not stop there.  During the Summit, HALC trekked around Capitol Hill alongside other HALC members and lobbied Congressmen to join a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting assistance for Greece in the refugee crisis.  He later declared his plans to produce one of his company’s products in Greece and hire a Greek company to handle distribution in Europe.  Before the final panel of the Summit, Nikos handed a $50,000 gift to SOS Villages and urged conference attendees to continue support of this cause.

Yes, Nikos Mouyiaris is more deserving than we – or even he – realize.  In his speech, he called himself a “mere soldier” in the service of Hellenism.  He is much more than that, and I would argue that if we are going to invoke the Greco-Persian wars in honoring Nikos, it is not Phidippides we should look to, but Themistocles.

Plutarch called Themistocles “the man most instrumental in achieving the salvation of Greece”.  It was Themistocles who recognized the existential threat the Persians represented.  He convinced the Athenians to forego a distribution of newfound wealth among the populace and instead build a navy.  Finally, it was Themistocles who convinced his people to temporarily abandon their city and draw the Persians into the Straits of Salamis, ultimately saving Athens, Greece and Western civilization.  That he executed this final act while giving a Spartan the command of the fleet makes him even more impressive.

Nikos has been warning against the existential threats faced by worldwide Hellenism, and I’ve witnessed Ambassadors, politicians, clergy and even some of his own friends ignore those warnings.  Developments are proving him right.  Yet he did not stand by because others did.  He decided to build a navy.  HALC is – as he wanted it – a full time organization with a full time professional staff, but it is more than that.  It is an infrastructure where Hellenes communicate with each other (both online and in person) and collaborate.  Nikos helped build the ships and now he is helping recruit the most motivated and qualified sailors and soldiers to man these ships and not only save Hellenism from the existential threats it faces, but to lead it to a new Golden Age.

Listen to his speech, to his vision.  Go to www.hellenicleaders.com and sign up to serve in this force.  Let’s make the most of the opportunity that Nikos, our Themistocles, has given us.  Let us justify his faith that an entire generation can unite and reinvigorate worldwide Hellenism, and maybe one day we will be worthy of emulating Phidippides and proclaiming “We have won!”

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