Thessaloniki, Supreme President Gus J. James, II, wrapping up a weeklong excursion to Cyprus and Greece, was in Thessaloniki, marching in the annual “OCHI” Day Parade, commemorating the 65th anniversary of the day Greece issued a defiant “No” to the evils of fascism, and instead, said “Yes” to freedom in 1940. The Greeks successfully fought the Italian army, pushing the invaders back into Albania after one week. It would prove to be a costly military campaign for the Axis powers.
“This is truly an amazing event,” James said. “I’m proud to be here. My fellow Ahepans who traveled with me, and our Thessaloniki chapter members, are all proud to be a part of this wonderful celebration commemorating an important event in our Hellenic history.”
Supreme President James shared his sentiments with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias at the parade.
At the time, leaders from around the world including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an AHEPA member, recognized the brave stand. He told the AHEPA Supreme Lodge in a meeting on April 25, 1941: ‘The heroic struggle of the Greek people to defend their liberties and their homes against the aggression of Germany after they had so signally defeated the Italian attempt at invasion has stirred the hearts and aroused the sympathy of the whole American people.”
James added: “Today, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, of which many of its members fought heroically behind enemy lines in Greece during World War II, commemorates the 65th anniversary of ‘OCHI’ Day, observing it as a day to celebrate freedom, justice, liberty, and the passion of the Hellenic spirit.
While in Cyprus, AHEPA delegation was received by Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou.