NEW YORK – A reception was held on June 3 at the 3 West Club in Midtown Manhattan, hosted by East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA) President and Founder Lou Katsos, in honor of the team and supporters of the upcoming Sail to Freedom event set for Sunday, June 6.
The idea for the Sail to Freedom is to raise awareness in Greece and in the Greek communities around the world, to increase the interest about the Hellenic history and to appraise the American interest for the Hellenic revolution during the years of 1821-1829.
Among the speakers were Member of the Hellenic Parliament for the Cyclades Katerina Monogiou, Evangeline Plakas, Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization and Provost of New York University Katherine E. Fleming, Spiridoula Irida Despinea, and Evlambia Revi.
Katsos gave the welcoming remarks and offered his historical insights into the Hellenic Revolution, the significance of the upcoming Sail to Freedom event, and also the multifaceted connections between the United States and Greece highlighted in the many EMBCA online discussions honoring the bicentennial of 1821. He congratulated Plakas, the team, and the supporters for their efforts to organize the June 6 event during the pandemic.
Bass-baritone Costas Tsourakis sang the National Anthems of Greece and the United States to start off the event and later sang a piece from the opera Markos Bostaris by Pavlos Carrer.
Prof. Fleming spoke in Greek at first and then switched to English as she noted that both the U.S. and Greek National Anthems were written at a time when it was unclear if either would succeed- The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 and the Greek National Anthem by Dionysios Solomos at a difficult point in the Hellenic Revolution. She also noted the longstanding connection between the U.S. and Greece, mentioning the Philhellenes who fought in Greece and the Ypsilantis.
Monogiou, who noted that she is from the Cycladic island of Mykonos, spoke about the famous heroine of the Revolution Manto Mavrogenous who spent all her fortune for the Hellenic cause. She also discussed the replica costume on display at the event that was created from a drawing of Mavrogenous. Monogiou noted that she had met earlier with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros and donated a copy of the costume to the Archdiocese to put on display. She added that His Eminence told her that the costume would go to a Greek community school to be displayed, so that the students would see it as a reminder of how Mavrogenous played a pivotal role in the Revolution.
Despinea spoke about the women of Mani who fought during the Hellenic Revolution, highlighted by her discussion of the traditional costume worn by the Maniatisses which was also on display at the event. She also explained the meaning of the flag of Mani which says “Victory or Death” because the people of Mani were already free and were fighting to free the rest of Greece. The flag also has the Spartan saying Tan H Epi Tas which refers to returning with your shield or on it, to spur them on in battle.
Plakas presented Katsos with a certificate from the Greek Philosophical Society in honor of his efforts and also a replica of the flag of Mani which she also presented to other supporters at the event. Plakas told The National Herald that this reception was to thank all the team that has worked so tirelessly to organize the Sail to Freedom.
Also among those present were Argyris Argitakos, Kostas Kimoulis, George Kitsios, Nicole Petallides, Catherina Ploumidaki, and Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis.
A cake from the Pi Bakerie in Soho was served at the reception which was one of the first in-person events since the pandemic. A commemorative t-shirt and mask were also given to all those present as a parting gift as everyone looked forward to the Sail to Freedom event on June 6.
More information about the Sail to Freedom is available online: https://www.greece2021.nyc/.