First, and foremost, please stay safe during the challenge presented by the coronavirus global pandemic. We have issued a series of communications and set-up a resource webpage. The health, well-being, and safety of the community is our top priority.
Greek Independence Day has always been about celebrating our forefathers’ declaration of the will to fight against tyranny. On March 25, 1821, 199 years ago, the Greek Revolutionary Forces raised the standard of the cross and declared that Greece would be free from Ottoman rule.
Four hundred years of agony, suffering, and enslavement under the yoke of a brutal conqueror was about to end.
Inspired by the classical Hellenic feats of bravery of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, the gallant patriots of 1821 proceeded to show the world that courage was indeed a word of Greek invention and lived their motto of «ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ ή ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ» — “VICTORY or DEATH” — to the fullest.
Greece is the mother country of freedom and knowledge, of Western culture and democracy. Each of us in the Western World is her child, no matter our national origin.
The Greek War of Independence restored freedom and eventual democracy to the place that gave birth to these concepts.
Thomas Jefferson called ancient Greece “the light which led ourselves out of Gothic darkness.” All who cherish a free and democratic government are beneficiaries of Greece’s legacy and thus should consider themselves Philhellenes. This is why Americans, and others worldwide, fought and died alongside the Greeks during their struggle for freedom in the Greek War of Independence. The Greeks received the support of Jefferson, President James Monroe, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and U.S. Representatives Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, who so gallantly championed the cause of Greek Freedom in the halls of Congress. (Pictured: Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, Boston, a Harvard-educated physician, American Philhellene of the War of 1821, who became Surgeon General of the Greek forces.)
AHEPA remains active and committed to fighting for the welfare of the community and for the preservation of Hellenism and Hellenic ideals.
Please commemorate Greek Independence Day with your families:
Recite a prayer for Greece, and for the well-being of our friends, families, neighbors and leaders; chant the Greek and American anthems together around the dinner table; use this time as a teachable moment on the importance of Greek Independence Day and the need for us to continue to be civically engaged in Defending Hellenism now. If you can, raise the Greek flag outside your home; and take some time to think about the immensity of our forefathers’ sacrifice which gave Greece the freedom it enjoys today — a freedom which is currently under siege. (Pictured: Daniel Webster, Salisbury, N.H., U.S. senator and secretary of State during the Greek War of Independence, who spoke eloquently on behalf of the Greek cause in the United States Congress.)
As schools, businesses and churches are shuttered, and we remain in our homes, please take the time to talk to your children, grandchildren, family and friends about Hellenism, the events of 1821, and the significant bond of shared values between Greece and the United States.
Throughout history, Greece, Cyprus, the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to face the challenges of an ever-changing world. Greece had been allied with the United States in every major conflict of the 20th century. The strong alliance continues into the 21st century. Greece, via NSA Souda Bay, Crete, and other military capabilities, has contributed significantly to NATO and United States missions, including peacekeeping operations, in an ever-increasingly important region of the world. United States government officials, along with other Western powers, have called Greece “a pillar of stability” in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Moreover, AHEPA’s participation in strategic dialogue and advocacy is a further demonstration of how the relationship has grown to new heights of cooperation.
The American Hellenic community is grateful to the members of Congress who will take the time to commemorate Greek Independence Day. We sincerely thank Senator Robert Menendez and the 34 co-sponsors of the senator’s resolution to commemorate the 199th anniversary of Greek Independence. We call for its passage.
In closing, we are grateful to all governments that understand and appreciate that the fight for the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus continues until even today.
We appreciate all Hellenes and Philhellenes of the diaspora who have bound together in these times to #DefendHellenism.
Finally, take a moment to acknowledge and pay respect to those who sacrificed, allowing freedom and democracy to take root once again in Greece in 1821.
Long Live Greece! Long Live Hellenism!
Ζήτω η Ελλάς! Ζήτω ο Ελληνισμός!
George G. Horiates