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Governor Pataki Honors Subject of Pontian Genocide Memoir

Posted: Friday, March 02, 2001 at 10:57 AM CT


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GOVERNOR PATAKI HONORS SUBJECT OF PONTIAN GENOCIDE MEMOIR Governor's Award of Excellence To Be Given During Women's History Month Celebration

Governor George E. Pataki announced today that one of the six recipients of his 2001 Women's History Month "Award of Excellence" is a 90-year-old woman who is the subject of a memoir detailing the tragedy of the Pontian Genocide. The awards are scheduled to be given during an upcoming Women's History Month Celebration at which 100 distinguished women will be present.

Sano "Themia" Halo, whose life was documented by her daughter Thea Halo in the book "Not Even My Name," will be present to receive the award. At the age of 10, Mrs. Halo and 700,000 Pontic Greeks, who lived in communities along northern Turkey near the Black Sea for three millennia, endured immeasurable cruelty during a Turkish Government-sanctioned campaign to displace them. An estimated 300,000 Pontic Greeks died while being forcibly marched without provisions across the Anatolian plains to the Syrian border. The estimated 400,000 who survived were exiled from Turkey and today they and their descendants live throughout the Greek diaspora. For example, as many as 40,000 Pontic Greeks live among the many more Greeks in Astoria, Queens County.

Most people of good will are familiar with the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by forces of the Turkish Government. The details of Mrs. Halo's life in her daughter's book, however, add to our growing knowledge of the Pontian Genocide, which occurred concurrently. "Not Even My Name" is one of the few English-language accounts of the Pontian Genocide and it is among the most thorough. Thus, Mrs. Halo's story of survival and resettlement in New York City adds greatly to our understanding of the Pontian Genocide and its effects on immigration.

"The Turkish perpetrators of genocide in Asia Minor were notably brutal when executing their campaign to displace Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians from their ancestral lands. Sano's touching story of perseverance, triumph and healing serves as an inspiration for all who face adversity, and makes an important contribution to the treasury of works that clarify our understanding of this dark chapter in history," said Governor Pataki.

The month of March is traditionally observed as Women's History Month throughout the Nation. This year's theme, "Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision," underscores the wealth of character and strength found among American women of all occupations and at all levels of society. Under Governor Pataki's leadership, part of the State of New York's own celebration of Women's History Month includes the holding of an annual ceremony at which the achievements of women like Mrs. Halo are recognized.

Over 100 award recipients, former award recipients and their guests are expected. This year's ceremony will take place on Thursday, March 8th at 2:30 p.m. in the Governor's New York City Office, located at 633 Third Avenue, 38th Floor.

The Governor's ceremony is by-invitation-only. All media must R.S.V.P. with Anthoula Katsimatides at (212) 681-4569 or James V. Barcia at (212) 681-4573.

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