New York.- By Catherine Tsounis
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
“God signed the Freedom of Greece and He will not take back his Signature,” – Theodore Kolokotronis. The 2016 New York City Greek Parade, the largest outside of Greece, was held along 5th Avenue to celebrate freedom and Hellenism. His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios , primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, Grand marshals Hon. New York City Mayor Bill Di Blasio, SigmaPharm President Mr. Spiro Spireas, young Greek American hero Alex Skarlatos and President of the New Democracy party Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Miss Greek Independence Maria Vasiliki Exarchakis and many prominent persons of all field. President Petros Galatoulas of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York and his staff did an outstanding job. For a complete list of prominent persons, call the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater NY at 718-204-8986.
The John and Margo Catstimatides Foundation, staff and associates and major donors sponsored a television program on channel 9 with no significant advertising for two hours. The program was streamed on the internet globally on www.my9nj.com. They are to be commended for a television Parade program that was simply miraculous.
Fear was not present along the parade route because of the outstanding job of the New York City Police Department. An exceptional effort, protecting the public, and securing police barriers reflected the ever constant professionalism of the NYPD. In the wake of the Brussels terrorist attack, the police vigilance and effectiveness was unique.
“I am enjoying myself,” said physical therapist Kosta Koutsoubis. “I am here with my wife Kaliope and three children who are having great fun. It is a glorious day! We as Greek Americans marched with great energy this year. The spectators gave us there cheers and love. Flags Greek and American gave true meaning to the word “freedom”. God bless Greece and God bless America!” This sentiment was expressed by all.
“For this I became Patriarch, to save our nation with my death,” said His Holiness Patriarch Gregory 5th in 1821 when the Greek Independence began. In the booklet “The Church’s Pioneers of the 1821 Struggle” by Alexander, Metropolitan of Mantinea and Kynouria, Greece, a fascinating story unfolded on the sacrifice of the Greek clergy and the Greek nation. “The fighters of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataies were free men, spiritually educated and trained soldiers. The 1821 fighter were enslaved in chains for 400 years. They were supported by clergy, uneducated guerillas known as Kleftes and Armatolous, an unorganized group of people without arms, whose only military arm was their intense faith in freedom.1
The Turks in 1821 Tripoli knew the Revolution was about to erupt. They demanded the appearance of every area’s clergy and staff to come to Tripoli with the purpose of imprisonment and torture. The clergy knew if they refused to go to Tripoli, the revolution would not begin, resulting in genocide. For the good of the nation, they sacrificed their lives, endured martyrdom. Later they were beheaded, with their heads being paraded in the streets of Tripoli.2 Does this sound familiar in 2016?
The real prominent persons were the “Outsiders”: the hundreds who prepared for the parade across the North Eastern states to show they believe in the Independence of Greece, which is under siege and their devotion to the freedom of religion and Hellenism in the United States. Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said a clause was added to “admit more Greeks in the United States” because they add to the United States community. The strong presence of young and old showed solidarity in protecting Hellenism abroad and at home.