New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
What Greek Americans should know about the Greek War of Independence, is, above all, that it falls in a period when “romantic nationalism” was on the upswing in Europe, which resulted in the independence of a number of smaller countries; Greece was one
of the first. And its struggle especially profited in that period from the flourishing European interest in classical Greece and reconnected the Greeks with their ancient history.
Greek Independence Day celebrations honoring the 196th anniversary ofthe Greek War of Independence, the successful uprising of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire, will reach their high point in New York on March 26, in the Greek Independence Day Parade, organized with great ethnic pride by the nonprofit Federation of Hellenic Societies in New York, when Greek flags will be waving all along 5th Avenue. The annual Greek Independence Day Parade has become a New York City traditional event. This year marks the 79th year that the Greek Parade will take place on Fifth Avenue. Since 1938, it has attracted a vast number of New York participants, and since 1951 it has been taking place on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.
The Greek Independence Day Parade is an annual celebration of Hellenic identity and commemoration, through which all Hellenes can express and promote their culture and achievements to the world. For much of the 150 years of the Greek nation’s existence as an independent state there have been more Greeks outside the borders of Greece than inside.
It is hoped that on March 26, at New York’s Greek Independence Day Parade, the largest Greek Independence Day Parade in the US, Greek Americans will gather in numbers to cheer for what are expected to be more than 97 organizations, 45 floats, and 30 Evzones, a part of the Presidential Guard—the historical elite of the Greek army—who march perfectly in step up Fifth Avenue from 60th to 79th Streets in stunning silence but with their “tsarouchia” making one unified sound. This year the Evzones were brought here free of charge by Emirates Airline, which inaugurated its nonstop flight to Athens from New York on March 12.
As of this writing, showers are predicted in New York on Sunday, but let it rain on our parade. “The parade will take place whether it’s sun or rain or snow,” Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos of St. Demetrios in Astoria said to the publisher of the GN, “The weather should not stop us, because the heart of the Greek does not bow to the weather,” His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios will lead a service of thanksgiving at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at 1:30 pm and there will be a reception at the Plaza Hotel.
Basilis Gournelos is Chairman of the Parade Committee and Grand Marshalls of the Greek Independence Day Parade are Ivan Savvidis and George D. Yancopoulos. Ivan Savvidis is a philanthropist and Member of the Presidential Council of International Relations, President of the National Cultural Autonomy of Greeks in Russia, Coordinator of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) of the countries of the Former Soviet Union, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Agrocom Group” Holding Company, and George D. Yancopoulos, M.D. Ph. D. is President of Regeneron Laboratories & Chief Scientific Officer Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
Greek American schools, associations, clubs and other community organizations, and about 200 people from Greece, students of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Thessaloniki and Kavala Lyceum of Greek Women. The Greek government will be represented at the events by Minister of National Defense Panos Kammenos, Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides, Chairman of the Committee of the House of Hellenes Abroad Alexander Triantaphyllides, and vice president of New Democracy Adonis Georgiadis.