AHEPA Leading the Way Back to Greece and Celebrating its Bicentennial

ATHENS – From the moment of its founding in 1922, through the anguish in the homeland and in the Diaspora during WWII and the struggles of post-war rebuilding and beyond, the Order of the AHEPA has been at the forefront of the support of Hellenes Abroad for Greece, and in 2021 it is leading the charge back from COVID and back to the homeland by hosting its annual convention in Athens.

AHEPA’s Supreme President George Horiates spoke to The National Herald about why AHEPA is going to Greece for its signature annual event, the AHEPA Supreme Convention.

“In this Greek Bicentennial year AHEPA,” Horiates said, “the largest and greatest of all the Hellenic Diaspora organizations will celebrate the Greek Bicentennial unlike any organization on Earth. Of course, we are going to Greece with meticulous planning over many years and this summer's spectacular is the largest event worldwide in the celebration of the Greek Bicentennial! We are bringing Hellenes and philhellenes from across the Diaspora to join together for this unique spectacle in our most deserved and historic Greece.” 

Horiates highlighted yet another fact that places AHEPA in the Hellenic vanguard. “We will be ushering in the Summer of 2021. Many have been vaccinated and are ready to face the challenges of a new world and of our new society, but many still have not finalized plans for the summer. This message offers a final opportunity to convince some, as well as to look forward to celebrating with the others. This summer, during the Greek Bicentennial we will see the Parthenon – together. This summer we hear the sound of the sea – together.  We will experience the philotimo of time spent in the ancestral villages of brothers and sisters who are part of our lives not by blood, but by choice. This summer, at long last last, the AHEPA Family and the Hellenic Diaspora will celebrate – together.”

He emphasized that, “in many ways, we are all sons and daughters of Greece. Comprised of Hellenes and philhellenes, AHEPA has promoted the ancient Greek ideals at the core of Western Civilization for almost a century. Great Athens is the world’s flame of democracy, developing the thought and practices which great nations have dared to emulate for millennia. On hallowed grounds that are the ultimate testament to time, we will celebrate the Greek Bicentennial, so come to Greece. Greece deserves it, and so do you. This summer, AHEPA, docks in our most deserved and historic Greece – all aboard!

AHEPA’s Executive Director Basil Mossaidis told TNH that, “2021 is a year which marks many historic events. Slowly emerging from the 2020 pandemic lock down and returning to work and school marks a new day for the world. The Pandemic has caused a cultural and societal shift, and all the while AHEPA stood proud. Proud to support the men and women who provided front line defenses against this terrible COVID-19 terror – but that is not new. AHEPA has stood proud for 99 years, working with our communities to make tomorrow a better day.”

Mossaidis spotlighted AHEPA’s contributions over the past century, noting that, “since 1922 AHEPA has been in the forefront of countless humanitarian efforts, donating billions of dollars since 1922 to help those in need. In the 1940’s AHEPA rose to even greater heights by being an authorized War Bond issuer. AHEPA sold $300 million in war bonds and this money was used to build tanks and planes and to provide ammunition and other war materiel for the United States to defeat fascism in the world.

In the 1950’s and 60’s AHEPA stood proudly besides the civil rights movement and worked to make sure that equality and democracy was preserved in the United States and in Greece. AHEPA supported Greece time again, especially building from the devastation of World War.

He noted that millions of tons of food and aid were provided by the Marshall Plan, something that AHEPA member President Harry S. Truman made a reality. 

“In the 1970’s and 80’s,” Mossaidis added, AHEPA’s philanthropic work ushered in a new age of giving. AHEPA also donated $1million to the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island and over the last 20 years AHEPA has donated to fire and flood victims both here and abroad. Greece has received millions of dollars in aid for the AHEPA hospitals which were built in Thessaloniki and at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens. We support our communities by providing students with scholarships and with assistance to the elderly through the over 5000 apartments for our elderly in need across the country. Whether it was our $1 million donation to the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and Shrine at the World Trade Center, or the $2,000 scholarship check we gave to a worthy student, AHEPA Cares.”

Reflecting the feelings of many thousands of Ahepans across America and around the world, Mossaidis said that, “today AHEPA stands proud and tall knowing that when times get tough, the AHEPA gets going. When Greece was devastated by economic downturn, AHEPA was there. When Greece was ablaze in wildfires, AHEPA was there. When Greece needs a boost in tourism, AHEPA is there! We are going to Greece to lead the way and show the world that Greece is open for business and AHEPA will be there! We celebrate together the 200 years of freedom in Greece from Ottoman oppression and we celebrate the reopening of the most beautiful country in the world. Come and enjoy what AHEPA and Greece can provide, now and in the future.”

Supreme Vice President Jimmy Kokoktas summed it all up when he declared: “As we turn the corner regarding the pandemic, what better way to celebrate as Ahepans and philhellenes than a trip to Greece. Let us go honor our homeland and rejoice in its Bicentennial Celebration. Ζήτω η Ελλάδα!”


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