By Catherine Tsounis
Photos: GANP/Dimitrios Panagos
“He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.” Socrates
This concept has been instilled in the ethics of the Greek nation for over 2,500years. The courage of enslaved Greek Orthodox Christians who fought a super power in 1821 and won was remembered on Sunday, March 26th at the 86th Annual Greek Parade at 5th Avenue in New York City. The 196th Anniversary of Greek Independence had three battalions beginning with a New York City Police Department mounted color guard and ceremonial band. The event was organized by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.
The 2017 Parade Grand Marshals were Ioannis Savvidis, George D. Yancopoulos, MD./PhD and.Honorary Grand Marshal Emirates Airline. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America was the 2017 Honorary Parade Chairman. The Parade Chairmen Emeritus were john Catsimatidis and Philip Christopher. 2017 Miss Greek Independence is Julia Kokkosis, a pharmacy student at Long Island University. Churches, organizations, unions and athletic groups from the northeastern states participated.
The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York NY organized the parade with dedication under the leadership of the following persons: Petros Galatoulas, president; Vasilios Gournelos, George Kalergios; parade chairpersons; Aris Koukoumelis, Anthony Mihailidis and Paul Kotronus, parade co-chairs. This is an incomplete list. For more information, visit http://www.hellenicsocieties.org/PARADES.html.
The NYPD police were present everywhere, making sure all ran smoothly. The threat was present in everyone’s mind since the March 22 Westminster Bridge London attack. The John and Margo, Andrea and John Jr. Catsimatidis Foundation, staff and associates and major donors sponsored a television program on channel 9 without advertising for two hours. The Evzones, presidential guard of the Republic of Greece mesmerized all. The Pan Arcadian Federation youth from the Midwest travelled to participated with the “Geros Tou Morea”, “Eparhia Kynourias” and “Athena” chapters.
“September 23, 1821 was the date that changed the destiny of the Modern Greek nation. Four centuries of slavery reduced an advanced civilization to a state of illiteracy. The Greek Orthodox Church with the village priest kept alive the learning of this unique civilization. A group of guerilla fighters from Arcadia, the heartland of Hellenism, challenged a world power, the Ottoman Turkish Empire, to form a free nation.
September 23rd was the first major victory of these Chieftains, Kleftes (mountain fighters), Armatoloi (semi-free soldiers) in the fall of Tripolis (Tripolitsa), the unofficial capital of the Peloponnese, because of its strategic location. The headquarters of the Turkish army were located in Tripolitsa. The successful siege was the first major victory. Greek fighting forces were able to gain national support and the aid of Phil-Hellenic nations.”2
Daniel Webster’s speech in the House of Representatives in January 1824 said about the Greek Revolution that “the Greeks address the civilized world with a pathos not easy to be resisted. They invoke our favor…they stretch out their arms to the Christian communities of the earth, beseeching them, by a generous recollection of their ancestors, by the consideration of their desolated and ruined cities and villages, by their wives and children sold into an accursed slavery, by their blood, which they seem willing to pour out like water, by the common faith and in the name which unites all Christians, that they would extend to them at least some token of compassionate regard.”1The Greeks of 2017 are fighting an economic war. They are following their 1821 ancestors by having courage and fighting.