ATHENS – A delegation of the Order of AHEPA led by Supreme President John Galanis and including Daughters of Penelope Grand President Connie Pilallis, Supreme Vice President Andrew Zachariades, Executive Director Basil Mossaides, as well as several governors of Greek AHEPA chapters, was in Athens on May 12 for the occasion of a presentation of the book 1900 at the Grand Ceremonies Hall of the Hellenic Armed Officer’s Club, an event organized by AHEPA Hellas.
Written by Panagiotis Tripontikas and Stefanos Milesis, 1900 is a naval and historical story that brings to light the efforts of a generation of Navy men attempting to carry out a voyage in the year 1900: the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean aboard the “Navarchos Miaoulis,” a Hellenic Navy ship unsuitable for transoceanic missions.
It was an educational mission, led by Pavlos Kountouriotis, who commanded 215 sailors on board. Running on sails and charcoal, the ship sailed into the ports of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, with thousands of enthusiastic Greek-Americans waving Greek flags in support. The success of the transatlantic voyage and enthusiastic reception boosted the morale of the Greeks, who had suffered a defeat in the 1897 Greco-Turkish War.
At the time, most Greeks who had settled in the United States had emigrated from Turkey, and the sight of a ship bearing the Greek flag filled them with particular pride.
It is not a captain’s journal, the authors say, but rather an adventurous, touching portrayal of a journey which glorified the Hellenic Navy on both sides of the Atlantic.
The book was presented to an audience of several Parliament Members, dozens of officers of the Hellenic Navy and other branches of the military and mayors of the areas of Greece from which the 215 sailors hailed.
AHEPA Hellas Governor Giorgos Plokamakis, along with members of the U.S. delegation, spoke about the book, which depicts the Miaoulis’ voyage as representing a nation searching for the moral strength to stand on its own feet, to be uplifted.
And Kountouriotis managed to achieve just that, against all odds. He was congratulated by American officers and in Greece, and a few years later, Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos appointed him Fleet Captain, achieving more glorious victorious as such.
When the Miaoulis arrived in New York, it was greeted by President William McKinley and New York City Mayor Robert Van Wyck. The Greek newspaper Atlantis printed regular updates about the ship’s voyage in the States.
Governor Plokamakis honored Supreme President Galanis and Grand President Pilallis they, in turn, honoured two descendants of those sailors and 91-year-old Thanasis Savvakis, engineer of the Greek destroyer “Adrias,” and a granddaughter of Macedonian Fighter Pavlos Melas.