WASHINGTON, DC – The Hellenic Society Prometheas, in cooperation with the Hellenic organizations of the Washington DC area, on March 24, celebrated the 198th Anniversary of Greek Independence at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, MD. Through the combined efforts of the many volunteers and the contributions of the organizations and area restaurants, this year’s celebration was once again a success. The Grand Hall was filled to capacity and included Deputy Chief of Mission of the Greek Embassy Theodoros Bizakis, Colonel Vasileios Lambropoulos, Defense Attache, as well as seven members of the Military Mission at the Greek Embassy. Prometheas Vice President Magdalene Kantartzi was the Master of Ceremonies.
The program began with four “evzones” (elite infantry unit) from Baltimore marching into the Grand Hall, followed by students from St. George, St. Katherine, Holy Apostles, and the Hellenic School of Potomac, dressed in national Greek costumes and carrying the Greek and American flags. After the opening prayer by presiding priest of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral Rev. Steven P. Zorzos, Sophia Pelekasis, a student at St. Katherine, sang the National Anthems superbly in Greek and English. Next, Georgios Theodoridis, Chanter of St. Sophia Cathedral, chanted the beautiful hymn Ti Ipermacho.
After the salutary remarks by Hellenic Society Prometheas President Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, Dr. Harris Mylonas, Associate Professor of Political Science and Foreign Affairs at George Washington University, presented the keynote address, “The Role of the Greek Diaspora in the War of Independence.”
Afterwards, Maria Anastasi Paschalidis on vocals and Aphrodite Mitsopoulou on piano delighted the audience with the Mikis Theodorakis song Ena to Helidoni. This was followed by Yianna Stasinoulia-Albanes’ tribute to the great hero of the Greek War of
Independence and leader of the Filiki Eteria, Alexandros Ypsilantis, who was honored in this year’s celebration. Andreas Voyiatzis, a student at Langley High School, recited the poem O Vrachos kai to Kyma (The Rock and the Wave) by Aristotelis Valaoritis.
More music followed with Pelekasis performing Miroloi, a haunting lamentation of Markos Botsaris; Paschalidis sang accompanied by Kantartzi on the piano, the traditional song, O Amarantos; and the St. George Hellenic Dancers entertained the audience with several Cretan dances.
The Fairfax Saxophone Quartet (Jim Francis, Mar-shall Wise, Brian Cole, Dan Hurlow) then played Athena and Ballos as well as their last song, the Kalamatianos, accompanied by Mitsopoulou on the piano, which inspired the guests to get up and dance.
A reception followed, made possible by the generous contributions and support from the co-sponsoring organizations, and the following: Greek Taverna Restaurant, Mykonos Restaurant, Nostos Restaurant, Stella’s Bakery, The Big Greek Cafe, and Olympiakos DC Soccer Club.