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Lucky break unearths painting's history.

In April, the U.S. Embassy in Athens' Consular Section worked with the city of Athens to have cleaned a statue of Harry S Truman done by the sculptor who also did the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va. The city then asked if the embassy could find a U.S. partner to preserve the statue. While the Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Mo. couldn't take up the task, it had a request of its own: Identify an oil painting of the Acropolis that had hung in President Truman's home for 60 years. The painting's plaque read, "To President Truman from his Faithful Friend, G.N. Drakos, Athens, Greece, 1954."

Unable to track down the Drakos family, embassy officials mentioned the search at the post's 4th of July celebration, and a contact identified the surviving sons of George N. Drakos. The sons, Elias and Nikolaos Drakos, then told of how their father, a downtown Athens store owner, visited Kansas City in 1953 and while on a stroll met President Truman. Drakos doffed his hat, President Truman thanked him and, on learning Drakos was from Greece, invited him to visit his home in Independence. There, Drakos thanked Truman for his hospitality and the president responded saying, "No. It is we who will be forever indebted to Greece for giving us democracy."

Drakos was so moved, he promised President Truman a gift to remember Greece by and, on his return to Athens, commissioned a painting of the Acropolis by an Italian landscape painter, who spent two months on the task. The painting was framed and sent to President Truman, who sent a thank-you letter in 1954.

The two surviving sons had no further knowledge of the painting until they learned it now hangs in the music room of Truman's home. The embassy invited them to see the photos, and the consular section held an event to give them a collage that included copies of the painting, the letter from President Truman and a photo of the music room. The brothers brought the signed letter from President Truman and an old photo of their father holding the just-finished painting.


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Title Annotation:In the News; George N. Drakos's painting
Publication:State Magazine
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUGR
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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