ASTORIA – On March 31, Ton Athanaton (Immortal Heroes) Songs and Poetry Commemorating the 64th Anniversary of the EOKA Liberation Struggle 1955-59 was presented by the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO) in collaboration with the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and the Consulate General of the Republic of Cyprus at the St. Demetrios community’s Petros G. Patrides Cultural Center in Astoria.
Minister of Defense of the Republic of Cyprus Savvas Angelides was the keynote speaker at the event which included a short documentary screening on the history of the EOKA liberation struggle and a performance by the Pancyprian Choir and Actors of NY (Cultural Division of the Pancyprian Association) led by Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis.
“Their legacy and their desire for freedom, we have a duty not only to honor them but to manage them just as they deserve,” Andreas Hadjioannou, Master of Ceremonies, said in his address.
FCAO President Kyriacos Papastylianou said, “Whatever our differences, we must unite our historical and moral obligation towards those who have lost their lives, who have been forcibly tortured and imprisoned, all those who believe that the homeland is of the utmost importance.”
PSEKA President, Philip Christopher, said the event was intended to "honor and celebrate the memory of the heroes," while noting that the diaspora community in the United States should exercise its rights in this powerful country.
“In today's times, we have the capacity as American citizens to support the elected representatives who support our causes. It is an opportunity with the current U.S. government and the issues it has with Turkey.”
Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras referred to the Greek Independence Day celebration held recently at the Consulate General, and then he read the proclamation of the 1955 uprising.
“God has granted that I, due to my capacity, have visited the Great Island several times. I have walked on the sacred soil, visited the Imprisoned Graves, to pray, to see the anxiety, to see the cells. I hope to soon walk in a free Kyrenia.”
The audience applauded warmly for 13-year-old Nikolaos Polydorou, who read his own text about EOKA hero Evagoras Pallikarides.
Among those present were Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus Alexis Phedonos, Consul of Greece in New York, Lana Zochiou, the Counselor of the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Cyprus Maria Papakyriakou, and the Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos.
In his keynote address, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Cyprus Savvas Angelides noted Cyprus’ “serious legacy” and spoke about the need for contemporary Cypriot Hellenism to be “worthy of its history.”
“The historical continuity of Hellenism in Cyprus is a serious legacy for us. We must work hard in the spirit of collectivity and unity, to get rid of the Turkish occupation and to overthrow the results of invasion and colonization.”
Angelides also spoke about energy, as well as the participation of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the tripartite Cyprus-Greece-Israel alliance.
“At this juncture, the pressures of the international players must turn to Ankara to abandon the intransigent stance both for the Cyprus issue and in its relations with Greece.”
On the geopolitical developments, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios also noted that freedom for Cyprus “may come from the sea,” referring to the energy issue as well.
The artistic program of the celebration offered a powerful musical journey to the era of the 1955 liberation struggle with the Pancyprian Choir and Actors of NY (Cultural Division of the Pancyprian Association) led by Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis who accompanied on keyboard along with soloist Ellie Tsachtani on flute.
The poignant songs alternated with poetry for a moving performance, beginning with Eimaste oloi paidia tis EOKA (We are all children of EOKA), and including Tin Ellada Agapo (Greece I Love) and Ton Athanaton to Krasi (The Wine of the Immortals), the performance concluded with the upbeat Itane Proti Apiriliou (It Was the First of April) and a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.
Archbishop Demetrios thanked all those who contributed to the program, especially Stratis for all his efforts. Stratis in turn thanked the Archbishop and all those present for their support.