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“Blue Skies” in Pittsburgh Caps Month-Long Bicentennial Celebration in Western PA

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Greek-American Community of Western Pennsylvania will cap the March celebrations of the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution with “Blue Skies” in Pittsburgh, March 25-27, and two first-in-history virtual events via www.pahellenicfoundation.org/2021.

The Greek American Community of Western PA is ending its sequence of March 2021 events commemorating and celebrating the Bicentennial with two major events that are firsts in the USA as well as a Blue-color lit Pittsburgh downtown, including the City-County Building in honor of the Greek-American immigrants, the Greek-American community of Pittsburgh, and the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.

On March 27, the Greek-American community, through the American Hellenic Foundation of Western PA, the Greek Nationality Room Committee of the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh, and the European Art Center (EUARCE) of Greece, will honor the descendants of “lesser known” participants of the Greek Revolution as well as rebellions in the islands that followed it, who immigrated to, and who live in Western PA. The identity of the “lesser known” heroes and participants remains a work to be initiated at a formal level even though individuals, families, and researchers, from time to time, uncover these links and present them in the form of testimonials and scholarly publications. As concerns the “lesser known” participants and heroes whose children and grandchildren immigrated to Western PA, nothing was known until recently.

The Bridges of White and Blue is a project that began in the summer of 2020 and will continue into the future. It was planned as one of two keynote events for the Bicentennial Celebrations in Western PA and it was submitted to the Greece 2021 Committee which granted it its formal Auspice in December 2020.

The names of the descendants will be presented to the living families, together with commemorative Honorary Distinctions and a commemorative coin from the Greece 2021 collection.

Many of the identified “lesser known” participants were from the Vlahokerasia region of Arkadia (Manthyrea) and Western PA is home to many immigrants from that region. Other “lesser known” heroes were identified in Koropi (Attica), Messinia, Aghios Petros (Kynouria), Karpenisi, Kalavryta, and the Ionian island of Ithaki.

The overarching objective of the Bridges of White and Blue Project is to use it as a means of linking those regions of Greece with Western PA in order to foster cultural, educational, technological and economic exchange between the wider regions identified.

The second keynote event is taking place on March 28. The Greek Community, through the American Hellenic Foundation of Western PA, the Greek Nationality Room Committee of the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh, and EUARCE will honor the French-, British-, and Russian-American communities of Western PA in commemorating the London Protocols of 1827-1832. These were a series of treaties between the Three Powers at the time that guaranteed a liberated Greece and that served as the basis of the founding of the post-revolutionary, and modern Greek nation. The Philhellenism of the people of France, Great Britain, and Russia prior to, during, and following the Revolution, is unparalleled in the history of humankind. For this event, the organizers invited a number of distinguished guests who will offer greetings and thoughts, including Her Excellency Mrs. Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, their Excellencies the Ambassadors of the Republic of France, Her Majesty and the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, and the Hellenic Republic. Among the distinguished guests are the County Executive of Allegheny County Richard Fitzgerald, and the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh William Peduto who have already issued Proclamations marking March as the month of celebration of the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution in Western PA as well as honoring the immigrants from Greece and the Greek-American community of Western PA. Additional distinguished guests include the Mayor of the Municipality of Peania, Attica, Greece, and the Vice-Provost for Global Affairs and Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for International Studies.

On behalf of the Greek-American community, Honorary Distinctions will be given to the French, British, and Russian communities of Western PA, through their respective Nationality Room Committees at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, Honorary Distinctions and the Medal of Honor of the Municipality of Peania will be given to the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, the Vice-Provost for Global Affairs and Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for International Studies, and the Director of the Nationality Rooms Program.

This event will also feature poems, music, and song celebrating Greece from talented performers from all four communities.

These two keynote events cap a series of earlier events that began on March 1. These included the presentation of the Proclamations by County Executive Fitzgerald and Mayor Peduto, a three-part series/narrative on the Klephtiko Song, a first-in-the U.S. presentation of unknown correspondences between the Greek revolutionaries and the American Founding Fathers, a musical tribute to Nikolaos Mantzaros via his Partimenti featuring a string quartet that presented these earliest known chamber music compositions of Mantzaros (who composed the music to Ode to Liberty by Solomos), a presentation by the Pulitzer-winning and New York Times best-selling author Thomas E. Ricks on First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and How that Shaped America, a virtual exhibit of Giannis Davaris, a Revolutionary Hero at the Acropolis, and a lecture-concert presented by members of the Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh on the Annunciation Dialogue, the Canon poem of the Annunciation feast.

These events were a collaboration among the American Hellenic Foundation of Western PA, the Greek Room Committee of the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh and EUARCE. Some of the these events were sponsored and made possible by the generous support of the Supreme Lodge of the Greek American Progressive Association (GAPA), the Icarian Brotherhood, and the Deptartment of Philosophy of the University of Pittsburgh. This collaboration will continue for events planned for the summer and the fall of 2021 as part of the Bicentennial commemorations and celebrations.

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