First Greek-Amer­i­can con­gress­man dies

John Brade­mas reached high­est ech­e­lons of US pol­i­tics, leav­ing per­sonal mark on coun­try’s his­tory

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY TOM EL­LIS

John Brade­mas, a dis­tin­guished fig­ure of the Greek di­as­pora in the United States, for­mer mem­ber of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and lead­ing mem­ber of the Demo­cratic Party, died on July 11. He was 89.

From 1959 to 1981, Brade­mas was elected 11 times as an Indiana rep­re­sen­ta­tive, while he also served as ma­jor­ity whip from 1977 to 1981, the high­est po­si­tion ever held by a Greek Amer­i­can at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Along with Michael Dukakis, for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor and Demo­cratic US pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 1988, and for­mer Mary­land se­na­tor Paul Sar­banes, Brade­mas reached the high­est ech­e­lons of US pol­i­tics, leav­ing his per­sonal mark in the coun­try’s his­tory.

Brade­mas re­mained an ac­tive mem­ber of the di­as­pora, mak­ing fre­quent ap­pear­ances at events in Wash­ing­ton and New York, on the side­lines of which he showed ma­jor in­ter­est re­gard­ing Greek de­vel­op­ments. He also took part in meet­ings with top Greek of­fi­cials vis­it­ing the US, with whom he shared his as­sess­ments of US pol­icy and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

He op­posed US mil­i­tary aid to Greece when the coun­try came un­der the rule of a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship in 1967. He was also the in­sti­ga­tor of the con­cept of a 7:10 ra­tio of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary aid to Greece and Turkey, re­spec­tively, fol­low­ing the in­va­sion of Cyprus in 1974. He was dec­o­rated for his ef­forts by both Greece and Cyprus.

His po­lit­i­cal ca­reer ended in 1980, when he lost his seat to Repub­li­can John Hiler, the same year that Ron­ald Rea­gan was elected pres­i­dent. Brade­mas went on to be­come the pres­i­dent of New York Univer­sity, where for over a decade he over­saw the ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion’s de­vel­op­ment into one of the coun­try’s lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties.

Dur­ing his ten­ure, he founded the Onas­sis Cen­ter for Hel­lenic Stud­ies, as well as es­tab­lish­ing branches of NYU in Cyprus and other coun­tries. Through­out both his po­lit­i­cal and aca­demic ca­reer, Brade­mas was a fer­vent sup­porter of the arts and lit­er­a­ture. In 1994, Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton ap­pointed him chair­man of the Pres­i­dent’s Com­mit­tee on the Arts and the Hu­man­i­ties.

A grad­u­ate of Har­vard and Ox­ford, Brade­mas worked as an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Saint Mary’s Col­lege at the Univer­sity of Notre Dame. Fol­low­ing two failed at­tempts in 1954 and 1956, he was elected as a mem­ber of the United States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives with the Democrats in 1959, be­com­ing the first GreekAmer­i­can mem­ber of Congress in the coun­try’s his­tory.

John Brade­mas, founder of the Onas­sis Cen­ter for Hel­lenic Stud­ies (seen in a file photo), died on July 11. He was 89.

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