Honoree James H. Moshovitis

Michael Psaros, a newly-elected member of the Leadership 100 Board of Trustees and a prominent business leader and philanthropist, gave the keynote address on the 75th Anniversary of Oxi Day, October 28, 2015, at a special ceremony held by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation.

Honors went to James H. Moshovitis, a long-time member of Leadership 100, who received the “Greatest Generation Award” for a Greek-American World War II veteran; John Glenn, former United States Senator and Astronaut, who was given the “Greatest Generation Award” for a World War II veteran, accepted on his behalf by Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, since Glenn was unable to attend; and General George Douratsos, who received the “Greatest Generation Award” for a Greek World War II veteran.

Psaros, co-founder and managing partner of KPS Capital Partners in New York City, congratulated the honorees, “three brave men who served their countries with honor and distinction during World War II” and noted that the purpose of the ceremony was “to honor and recognize the millions of men and women who fought for their countries, for the future of the world, for freedom, democracy and the American way.” 

“As a Greek-American,” he said, “I believe in American exceptionalism – we all do.  Our community understands viscerally, emotionally and passionately that the United States of America is and always will be the land of opportunity, a shining city on the hill, a beacon of hope for the world, and the place that has fulfilled the dreams of tens of millions of immigrants for centuries.

“The men and women who fought in WWII,” he continued, “fought and died not just for our country, but also for an idea. That idea was created over 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece- the idea of the primacy of the individual in society, of free will, of free choice, of free expression, of free action. An idea that would lead to the utter rejection of tyranny, of subjugation and oppression.”

“OXI Day is not a discrete event that occurred 75 years ago,” he said. “Rather it is an epic event in a continuum of 2,500 years of Greeks saying OXI! and thus inspiring the world. Through this continuum over the millennia, Greeks again and again have endured wars, struggles and mortal conflicts in defense of liberty. This idea is part of our culture, our language, our soul and our religion. OXI Day didn’t just happen in a vacuum. The weight of our history and our culture inspired Prime Minister Metaxas on that fateful day at that fateful moment.”

Oxi Day marks the event in 1940 when Benito Mussolini of Italy delivered an ultimatum to Metaxas that Greece surrender, following Italy’s invasion of Albania the previous year, which had forced the union of Albania with Italy. Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response OXI! The Italian Army with 10 times the fire power of Greece poured over the Greek-Albanian border into Northern Greece and the Greeks went on to destroy and evict the Italian Army from Greece, counter-attacked, and invaded 60 kilometers into Italian occupied Albania, the first Allied victory in World War II over an Axis power. Hitler with his Axis Ally, Bulgaria, then invaded Greece but despite their defeat by Germany, the Greeks fought long and hard, forcing the Germans to delay the invasion of Russia which affected the outcome of the war in the Eastern Front and the war in general.

The Washington Oxi Day Foundation honors today’s heroes around the world who- in the spirit of OXI Day-courageously battle Goliaths for freedom and democracy. Individuals are nominated by America’s policy makers and opinion leaders to be honored before international and national leaders convening in Washington, D.C. each October for the Annual Washington Oxi Day Celebration.

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