“…An unrelenting patriot, intellectual and humanitarian. A selfless man whose only goal was to put Albanianism first. Put your nation’s interest ahead of your own and help provide freedom, justice and economic prosperity for your people. The passing of Agim Karagjozi marks the end of an era, but it is up to us, the next generation, to keep the flame of Albanianism strong.”
By Rafaela Prifti/
This segment of the eulogy delivered by his oldest son, Zuhdi, highlights the virtues of Agim Karagjozi’s character as a man and the ideals that guided him as a leader. The tribute was equally informative and insightful, combining historical events and personal moments in the life of the late Chairman of Vatra. The early part of the funeral service presented the family portrait of Agim Karagjozi, through the stories of two of his seven grandchildren, Mathew and Evan. The appreciation for the personal side of his life was expressed by Mrs. Teuta Sahatqija, the Consul General at the Consulate General of Kosova, who affirmed that Agim’s “legacy and memories will live on to defy his physical death.” With regard to his role as a prominent community activist, she placed emphasis on his advocating strong connections between Kosova’s institutions and the US. The Counsellor of the Mission of Albania to the UN, Armand Shandro, stated that Agim Karagjozi is the recipient of the National Medal of Honor, by virtue of his lifelong commitment and drive for the advancement of our nation. Vatra’s Chairman, Dritan Mishto, noted that the organization owes a debt of gratitude to Agim who has laid out a strong foundation for the Federation at a very critical time. He conveyed his sympathy to the family and focused the attention at a particular moment in Vatra’s history. It was Agim’s oldest son, Zuhdi Karagjozi, who enabled the acquisition of the building, which would house Vatra. While setting the record straight, Mishto rightfully credited Zuhdi for this invaluable contribution to the organization. This episode reveals a quality that both father and son share, namely, humility. In his remarks, the current Chairman said that “all Vatrans’ were present there as a pledge that the Federation which the late Chairman helped lay the foundations of, will continue to go on. Dr. Gjon Bucaj, Vatra’s Former Chairman, called Agim Karagjozi, “a true friend” and “an inspiring leader”. He added that his predecessor “was honored with many recognitions and decorations; among those, the one that made him particularly proud and happy, was the Honorary Citizenship of his native city, Gjirokastra.” After conveying his sadness, the Editor in Chief of Dielli, Dalip Greca, brought up the beloved Chairman’s unique style of communicating with the journalists in two particularly relevant interactions. He procedeed to read an endearing poem penned by Agim Karagjozi, first published in 1986, titled ‘Vatra and the sons”. In his remarks, Agim Rexhaj, Vice Chairman of Vatra, stated that the Pan-Albanian Federation of America and the late Chairman have a special unbreakable bond. With regard to his leadership style, the speaker said that the Honorary Chairman ‘listened more and spoke less” and that he was “a symbol of maturity in decision making and of wisdom in debating.” Vice Chairman Rexhaj counted himself fortunate to have been working side by side with a man like Agim Karagjozi. Further, he expressed appreciation that while Agim Karagjozi was Vatra’s Chairman, two important milestones became realities: the state of Albania was established as a democracy and Kosova gained its independence. Rexhaj concluded with a call for honoring Agim Karagjozi’s legacy: “Today is the moment of acknowledging his legacy, a moment for all Albanians and Vatra members to take a pledge upon his body that his ideals and the driving principles of Vatra will live on!” The following speaker, Agim Alickaj, spoke on behalf of the Albanian American Civic League. The AACL Board Member and longtime friend of Agim Karagjozi, stated that one of his greatest qualities was the ability to bring people together by respecting an opposing point of view. Publicist Idriz
Lamaj and activist Dino Cani paid their respects and noted that a man of his statue inspire in the way they live their life. Several political personalities had sent telegrams of condolences.
The concluding remarks and prayer were delived by Father Nikodhim. In a soft tone, he said that he was pround to have been invited to remember Agim Karagjozi. Father conveyed that although he did not know personally some of community members, now resting with the Lord, he knows “them by their stories…” Yet he said “Agim knew many of these great Albanian patriots that the world knows of through books, through literature and the ideals of freedom they expressed. ” In accordance with the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Father Nikodhim asked all present to join in the simple yet meaningful prayer:
May his memory be eternal!
SO IT SHALL BE!