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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Delphi AHEPA Chapter 25 Honors Its Historic Legacy

Hellenic News of America
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The Manhattan Chapter of The Order of AHEPA, Delphi #25, in conjunction with the AHEPA Empire State District Six (NYS) and AHEPA National Hellenic Commission, hosted a special and historical event on April 30, 2022 belatedly commemorating the dearly-departed AHEPA Delphi 25 member, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), upon the 75th Anniversary of the presentation of the FDR Bust/Statue by Delphi Chapter #25 at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, NY. Event was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to Pandemic.

President Roosevelt, while Governor of New York State, became a member of AHEPA joining the Delphi Chapter #25 in New York City on March 11, 1931 and remained a lifelong dues-paying member until his death. In 1945 the then membership of the AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25 from Manhattan commissioned a Bust/Statue of FDR and it was placed within the grounds of the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, NY. Over 1,500 people were in attendance at the unveiling ceremony on October 28th, 1945 including Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, many prominent U.S. government officials, as well as the leadership of AHEPA. Regrettably President Roosevelt has passed a few months prior to this event. His Eminence Athenagoras, then Archbishop of North & South America (and later Patriarch) commenced the unveiling ceremony with a Trisagion prayer ceremony.

Left to right: Father Jason Dickey, Steve Miller, Dimitrios Pamboukes, George Eliopoulos, Dean Moskos, Theodore P. Klingos, Louis Katsos, Argyris S. Argitakos, and Michael Papaphotes
Photo: Zafeiris Haitidis

The event of April 30th, 2022, in commemoration of the unveiling ceremony, reenacted the events of 1945. The national anthems of Hellas and USA were sung eloquently by Ms. Eli Rizo at the gravesite of President and Mrs. Roosevelt. This was immediately followed by a Trisagion prayer by Father Jason Dickey, presiding priest of the local Greek Orthodox Church, Kimisis tis Theotokou of Poughkeepsie. A beautiful memorial wreath was laid at the Roosevelt’s tomb by the leadership of the AHEPA Empire State District 6 Lodge and the AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25 from Manhattan. As it was a beautiful Spring morning the event was well attended by approximately 50 guests and several onlookers.

Some AHEPA Delphi 25 Chapter Brothers at the FDR Compound upon the installation of the FDR Bust/Statute in 1945. Also present is Stephen S. Scopas (front, left) of AHEPA Supreme Lodge, Tom Clark (front, right) U.S. Attorney General, Walter Russell (top, left), Sculptor, and Harres F. Booras (top, right), AHEPA Supreme President at the time.
Photo: Courtesy of AHEPA

All in attendance then proceeded to the nearby Delphi Chapter Bust/Statue of FDR to pay homage and take photos as was done in 1945. All attendees then proceeded to the Henry A. Wallace Center within the compound of the FDR Presidential Library and Home. All were greeted and welcomed by the AHEPA Delphi Chapter 25 President, Brother Theodore Klingos, as well as the AHEPA Empire State District 6 Governor, Brother Dean Moskos. The acting Director of the FDR facility, Mr. William Harris gave a brief presentation as it related to FDR pointing out that FDR personally mandated that only two statues adorn this vast multi-acre compound: that of AHEPA and another of the Women’s Amalgamated Workers of America. Following these welcoming greetings, Brother Louis Katsos, Chairman of the AHEPA National Hellenic Cultural Commission (past-District 6 Governor and past-President of Delphi #25), presented a detailed and informative presentation expounding on the historical perspectives of AHEPA, FDR’s involvement with AHEPA, and the Delphi Chapter 25. All were impressed with this presentation, including Ms. Anastasia Shattner-Somkopoulos, who travelled from California to attend this event as her great uncle, Antonios Manganis was present at FDR’s initiation ceremony in 1931 (Brother Manganis was the Secretary of AHEPA Delphi 25 at the time). All in attendance received a copy of the book “Conversations with F.D.R. at his AHEPA Initiation” written by Leonidas V. Georgiou, a member of AHEPA Delphi 25, and published in 2019. After the ceremonies and lecture lunch and refreshments were served to all attendees and participants followed by a tour of the spectacular FDR Presidential Museum and Library.

Delphi Chapter 25 President Theodore P. Klingos at the back of the statue
Photo: Zafeiris Haitidis

Brief History of The Order of AHEPA and Delphi Chapter #25

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The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (‘AHEPA”) is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization. Its scope is international with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Europe, and “sister” chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia. AHEPA this year is celebrating its 100th Year Anniversary, as it was founded on July 26, 1922, in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society. It also helped Greek immigrants assimilate into society. Today, AHEPA brings the ideals of ancient Greece, which include philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, family, and individual excellence, to the community. Although the majority of AHEPA’s membership is comprised of Americans of Hellenic descent, membership is open to anyone who believes in the mission of the organization and considers themselves philhellenes (those of non-Greek descent but friends of Greece).

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt receiving a certificate from AHEPA at the White House. (Photo: Excerpt from Conversations with FDR at his AHEPA Initiation: Frigates, Battleships, Espionage and a Sentimental Bond with Greece, by Leonidas V. Georgiou, Knollwood Press, © 2019)

AHEPA’s Delphi Chapter #25 was founded in 1923 in Manhattan NYC; it was the first Chapter in New York State. The Delphi Chapter #25 was instrumental in welcoming the early Greek immigrants to the USA as they disembarked at Ellis Island and helping them with their assimilation into the American culture by assisting them with learning the English language, finding employment and eventually becoming citizens of the United States.

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with AHEPA members. (Photo: Excerpt from Conversations with FDR at his AHEPA Initiation: Frigates, Battleships, Espionage and a Sentimental Bond with Greece, by Leonidas V. Georgiou, Knollwood Press, © 2019)

The Delphi Chapter #25, in addition to the late President FDR, has had many notable and prominent members in its history, including many philhellenes who embraced AHEPA’s ideals and values. In 1924 Seraphim G. Canoutas joined Delphi Chapter #25 and later served as Chapter President, he was at the time the most notable historian and the primary source for the 1880 to 1920 wave of Greek immigrants. Some of the many distinguished members that followed in Delphi’s rich history were Past Chapter Presidents and later Past Supreme Presidents of AHEPA Dean Alfange and Dr. Kimon Doukas. Other notable past Presidents of Delphi Chapter #25 included the Honorable Federal Judge Nicholas Tsoucalas.

FDR Statue Inscription
Photo: Zafeiris Haitidis

Currently the AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25 is one of the most vibrant Chapters of The Order of AHEPA; following a dynamic revitalization this AHEPA Chapter, based in Manhattan, has grown to be the largest Chapter in the entire global AHEPA domain and has been recognized with many awards and citations including most recently being awarded as the 2019 Chapter of the Year Award at the AHEPA Supreme Convention in Chicago of that year. The Chapter vibrantly continues on today in the tradition of AHEPA’s ideals and values of promoting Education and Hellenism through many efforts of public service and philanthropy.

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Lou Katsos presenting at FDR Event
Photo: Zafeiris Haitidis


Delphi AHEPA 25 Event
Photo: Courtesy of AHEPA

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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