Cherry Hill, NJ – Three years later, the Eleftheria Medal highlights the Independence Day community banquet. Nick and Athena Karabots smiled and waved as cheers went on around them. The pair were the latest inductees into the new club created by the Federation of Hellenic Societies. Previous recipients of the medal, Rev’d Demetrios Constantelos Ph. D., D. D. , and Dr. Spiros Spireas, President of the American Hellenic Institute Foundation are also members of this esteemed group.

The Karabots were part of the evenings exchanges of awards between the Federation of Hellenic American Societies and it’s honorees. Following the National Anthem by Popi Karapalides and an overextended series of dances by the Hellenic Heritage Dance Group, the evening awards ceremonies began.

Running nearly an hour behind (Greek time as usual), a series of greetings from various members of the Greek-American community, including president of the Federation Stathis Karandonis, to High commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus Vasilis Philippou, spoke on behalf of the parade and the importance of Hellenism.

Vice-President of the Federation of Hellenic American Societies, Nick Spiliotis and Commander Thanos Notaras of the Hellenic Navy, struck a chord with the guests who applauded their comments. Both reflected on the diaspora’s love and pain of homeland while discussing historical aspects of the Greek Revolution.

Without a move or as much as a twitch, the Evzones dazzled the crowd by simply standing present. Like manikins in a mall, they stood by as children and adults snapped up photos. The 20-year lapse now come to life, had made these archaic soldiers appear more like historic artifacts to an audience that had not seen them in nearly a generation. As the presentations finished, the soldiers were led, one by one out the gymnasium. That moment of silence as they exited amplified the significance of their visit for the community and reminded us of the contributions the Greek soldier has made to the history of this parade. They had united a community.