Upper Darby, PA – It was a surprise presentation at the Greek Independence Day Dinner. Last night at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley presented the Eleftheria Medal to Demosthenes Vasiliou for his years of dedicated service to community and Hellenism.

Following the national anthems of Greece and the United States, Nikolaos Spiliotis, President of the Federation, welcomed the guests from around the United States and the community. Many of them remarked about this special evening. Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Greece in New York said, “it was very moving to see this well known Greek, Demo Vasiliou recognized. I was surprised to see how this secret, the awarding of the Eleftheria Medal was kept until the last moment,” added Koutras.

Also in attendance, were Honorary Grand Marshall, Commander Thanos Notaras, of the Hellenic Navy, Jan Spanos, Grand President of Daughters of Penelope, and Andrew C. Zachariades, Supreme President of AHEPA. Each spoke on Hellenism and the importance of Greek Independence Day. All will be participating in the parade today along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Awards and gifts were also presented to the Presidential Guard members of Greece for coming to Philadelphia and representing the motherland. President Spiliotis also recognized those individuals in the Federation and the community for their service. A special award was given to Efstathios Karadonis, Chairman of the Board of the Federation. Karadonis has worked behind the scenes of the Federation and as the President for many years. Also recognized was Veronica Lewis Crisp, for her dedication to community and work for the Federation.

Georgia and Dimitris Halakos, this year’s Grand Marshalls shared the podium and thanked all those for making this event another success. The Halakos’ from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church have worked for their community for many years and have been dedicated members of many Hellenic organizations both regionally and nationally.

First year Vice President and chair of the Parade, George Maniatis summed up the evening best. “I have a great sense of pride and hope for our communities future. The best is yet to come, and tomorrow we will take the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and fill it with Hellenes”. Maniatis is the son of former Federation President, Sotirios Maniatis. He is one of the future leaders of the community. Maniatis’ optimism about the future will lend itself to bring more of the youth forward to promote and unite the Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia.