New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
“AHEPA’s mission to defend Hellenism has been more focused than ever this particular year and in these particular times,” AHEPA Supreme President, George G. Horiates, Esq., told the GN in a Wednesday interview that included the philanthropic work of AHEPA during the pandemic, the celebrations for Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution and the upcoming AHEPA in Greece. “We’ve been a society under quarantine in this pandemic, yet we have been providing care throughout the world through our AHEPA Capital C Cares initiative to combat COVID-19. Many of our chapters have been delivering relief throughout our communities—not just in the United States—but in Canada, Greece, Cyprus, and throughout Europe.
GN: How has AHEPA assisted Greece during the pandemic?
GH: In Greece itself, we have assisted at the border by providing equipment to police as well as other personnel for defending the border at Evros. Currently, we are also providing assistance to our hospitals, including Evangelismos in Athens with a sub care burn unit, as well as the AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki for the pandemic. We also have sponsored COVID-19-backed research to assist and ensure that the spread of the virus in Greece is not as drastic as it has been in other affected areas. Our work is continuing in all these regards while advancing the ball regarding Hellenism itself.
We have assisted the Greek communities of the world with many and various issues,
particularly in the eastern Mediterranean. During these times we have been able to assist in a variety of issues in the eastern Mediterranean, acting as a conduit between Greece and the West.
We continue to fight the current trend of discontinuing Greek classical studies in our educational institutions. We continue our fight for the return of the Parthenon marbles. And our philanthropic work in terms of defending Hellenism during this pandemic has been beyond compare.
GN: What has been AHEPA’s working model for the Bicentennial celebrations?
GH: AHEPA’s major undertaking for the bicentennial is to highlight America’s assistance in the Greek revolution and the current state of US/Greek relations in print, on all social media platforms, and through advertising. We believe, in accordance with United States Ambassador Pyatt, that these efforts should continue. Greece has taken on a new role at the apex of the 200-year alliance between the West and Greece, with her new geopolitical identity promoted as a bulwark in the West and the eastern Mediterranean.
Our efforts were designed to include American perspectives and voices, much like the plans made by the United States Embassy for 2021. We are honoring and conveying our respect for the Greek ideals of democracy while highlighting stories of friendship in the historical connection between Greece and the United States—particularly in its fight for independence—the alliance between Greece and America, and in the 200 years since then,Greece’s strategic importance in the West.
AHEPA’s campaign, since the beginning of the year, has been to visit various locales and to do exhaustive research for the bicentennial. We started off with a tribute to Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe in Rhode Island and Boston, and then went on to highlight various other important pieces of the historical puzzle of the story… that continues… and needs to be told. Another was a wonderful program we held in Annapolis, MD, to pay homage to American philhellene, John M. Allen, a midshipman, for his efforts in the Greek War of Independence.
As a centerpiece to the bicentennial celebrations, we performed a reenactment of the Greek Ball of New York, a show for the ages. We had professional actors and actresses enter the Stathakion Center in Astoria for a reenactment of the Greek Ball of February 27 of 1827, which was held at the Park Theatre. From this and other fundraisers that assisted the Greek cause, we were able to get the message out to the Greek community as well as the greater community, of the special role of Greece and the United States.
After the Greek Ball, we honored Demetrios Ypsilantes in Ypsilante, Michigan, and recognized
a bust of Ypsilantes [by Greek sculptor Christopher Nastos] America’s first public work, commissioned at the 6th Supreme Convention. We felt this was very important as it fulfilled what we believe is the need to preserve the contributions and sentiments of not only American philhellenes, but all individuals, including those who decided to honor this great and brave general by changing the name of their town.
At the Nashville, Tennessee, Parthenon, we also participated in a call for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum—kicking off that phase of our mission to defend Hellenism. And then we honored the Marines at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, the first Marine barracks, where 200 years agofunds were raised for the Greek cause. We will continue to carry out events like these to encourage all and remind the public that we have a shared vision for the future of Greece… not just in its fight for independence, but for our partnership as we move forward. We can not only say ZHTO H ELLAS! in March; we say it all year long, as we honor a yearlong celebration of the Greek Bicentennial. We also say, God Bless America, because our country promotes values rooted in the ideals of ancient Greece.
GN: The AHEPA Family Supreme Convention 2021, in Athens. July 31, in person, at last?
GH: We are very pleased that we will have an in-person convention this year in Greece to celebrate AHEPA’s 99th year, as well asthe Bicentennial. We encourage everyone within the global community to attend the convention. Not just because Greece needs tourist dollars, but because Greece needs the support of Hellenes throughout the Greek Diaspora to properly celebrate its Bicentennial.
The convention will be held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel starting from July 31 We will have various events honoring Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Katerina Sakellaropoulou. We will have a Night at the Parthenon, an Evening at the Zappeion, an Evening at the Presidential Palace, a Night at the Benaki. We’re very proud of our achievements and we believe that those achievements will continue as we celebrate and culminate this most glorious bicentennial year. We invite every Hellene and philhellene to celebrate, in person, at the AHEPA Supreme Convention this summer. Contact AHEPA.org for more information on t