Washington, DC.- A proud tradition continued on June for the traditional Memorial Day 2008, when members of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest and oldest American-based Greek heritage grassroots membership organization, paid their respects on behalf of the Greek-American community to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and liberty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Since 1924 Ahepans have returned annually to Arlington for this memorial.
Supreme President Ike Gulas asked, retired Army Colonel Nicholas P. Vamvakias, and retired Navy Captain Demosthenes N. Kolaras, Retired General of the Greek Air Corps Father Demetrios Kanellopoulos and retired US Army Lt. Cary V. Mossaidis participated in the wreath laying ceremony. An Honor Guard Specialist assisted them.
“It is a unique and powerfully moving experience,” said Vamvakias, who during the ceremony, reflected upon his fellow Army servicemen with whom he served in the mid-1960s. “It is especially meaningful to perform this ceremony at this time in our nationʼs history when our brave men and women are in harmʼs way. This is one of the greatest honors anyone can perform and a small way of expressing our communityʼs gratitude to our fallen heroes,” said Supreme President Gulas.
On Sat., May 24, members of AHEPA Chapter 31, Washington, DC, and surrounding AHEPA Chapters gathered to memorialize those identified as Greek-Americans or Greek Orthodox who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. According to members of the chapter, there are roughly 485 gravesites at which Ahepans present a bouquet of artificial flowers and pause in remembrance of those who perished for our nation. The chapter has performed this ceremony annually since 1949. This year, members from AHEPA Chapter 438, Arlington, Va. also assisted.
“I commend Chapter 31 for its carefully detailed effort to properly honor and remember the memory of those brave souls of our community who sacrificed so much for freedom,” said Gulas.