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General News

Commemorating September 11, 2001 – 21 Years Later

September 11, 2022

NEW YORK – September 11, 2022 marks 21 years since 9/11, the terrorist attacks that changed the world as we knew it. Nearly 3,000 people were killed at New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, following a passenger revolt on the fourth hijacked plane that would likely have hit the U.S. Capitol or the White House, according to investigators.

Among the 93 different nationalities among the dead, at least 36 were Greek-Americans. One of them was a flight attendant on one of the airplanes that the terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers. The others worked in the buildings themselves. The number of Greek-Americans may be greater, because it is very likely that there were others who died that day without easily-discernible “Greek-sounding” names.

The number of victims is much higher than the 3000, taking into account the people who indirectly lost their lives as a result of illness (including respiratory illnesses and various cancers in first responders, for example) and the fallen heroes of the wars that followed.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 remain the deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 340 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers killed that day.

Among the many memorials are the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial at the Pennsylvania crash site.

FILE - People flee from downtown Manhattan after planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
FILE – People flee from downtown Manhattan after planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

For the Greek community, the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11, as the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center, has been one of the most poignant structures to rise from the ashes of that horrific day.

“Ground Zero is now a sacred ground, a place of memory, a place of contemplation, forgiveness and love,” said His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in his speech during the consecration of the church on July 4.

The Thyranoixia of St. Nicholas Church took place last November in the presence of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. At the consecration on July 4, the

Ecumenical Patriarchate was represented by the His Eminence Metropolitan Geron

Emmanuel of Chalcedon, together with Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymno and

Avlopotamos. Archbishop Demetrios and Archbishop Spyridon, both former

Archbishops of America, also participated. It should be noted that the terrorist attack of

September 11 took place and the process of building the new St. Nicholas Church began during Demetrios’ tenure.

Archon Michael Psaros, Friends of St. Nicholas Board of Trustees Chairman, spoke movingly about the effort to complete the church: “Over 20 years ago, the only house of worship at Ground Zero was destroyed on September 11th, that Church was the first place our immigrant forebears encountered after they passed through Ellis Island to the dream of America. Today, we consecrate a magnificent new house of worship at Ground Zero, a breathtaking architectural masterpiece designed by Santiago Calatrava, the world’s most famous architect.”

“New York now has a National Shrine, a monument truly worthy of the greatest city in the world. May ‘Our Lady of New York City,’ holding this city in Her embrace, bless and protect New York and America for millennia to come,” Psaros said.

St. Nicholas is an architectural jewel and designed to bring people together, regardless of their ethnic background or religious beliefs, to remember and honor those we lost on 9/11. The peace and serenity of the space offers hope to all and a place for those who lost loved ones to seek solace in the crowded city that was changed forever on that sunny Tuesday morning.

The interior of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center during the services on July 4. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Among the victims on that day, Vassilios Haramis was from Staten Island. He was born and raised in Neapolis, Greece. At 18, he came to the United States to study and to pursue a better life. After earning a degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University, he worked for the Washington Group International at the World Trade Center.

In a previous interview with The National Herald, Staten Island’s Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas then-Parish Council President Gretchen Theodorakis said that “Vassilios was very kind man with great humor. He cared for everyone and loved his family dearly. He was one of the best people I have ever met in my life.”

Those who knew Haramis describe him as a man with many hobbies: he loved football, gardening and above all Greece, which he visited almost every year to see family and friends. He was a great family man and a good Christian who always offered his help to the community.

The street in front of the church has been renamed Vassilios Haramis Way in his honor.

A tragic irony is that during the first terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in 1993, Haramis was on Tower 2’s rooftop with a colleague in her seventh month of pregnancy at the time. He remained with her until help arrived and when she was rescued by helicopter, he went down 110 floors on foot. It took him three hours to get down but he was exhausted and happy that he stayed to help his pregnant colleague. He never turned his back on those in need.

Another victim of the terrorist attack was the Constantine Economos, a prominent member of the community of Holy Cross in Brooklyn and a parish council member. The street in front of Holy Cross has been named Economos Way in his honor. He was a partner in the firm Sandler O’Neill & Partners and on that tragic day he was working on the 104th floor of Tower 2.

In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo provided by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, smoke billows from the World Trade Center towers as St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church sits below them in New York s financial district. (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America via AP)
In this Sept. 11, 2001, photo provided by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, smoke billows from the World Trade Center towers as St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church sits below them in New York s financial district. (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America via AP)

In a previous interview, his daughter Katerina told TNH, on behalf of his family that on September 11, “our family lost a true renaissance man. As he worked a rigorous job in finance, he always found time for his family and community. Gus took his wife and children on trips, coached his children in sports and spent the most memorable times of our lives upstate with his family, parents, sister, brother, father-in-law and mother-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces, and nephews. He also took time out of his busy schedule to be a part of the Holy Cross Parish Council, where he served as president, and ran the annual Greek Festival. He was always there for anyone who needed help. He showed us all how to work hard and love hard and that lesson will never leave our hearts. Although Gus is no longer here physically, his family carries his love with them every day of their lives.”

According to the New York City Coroner’s office the list of Greek-American victims were: Joanne Ahladiotis 27, Ernest Alifakos 43, Arlene Babakitis 47, Katherine Bantis 48, Peter Brennan 30, Thomas Damaskinos 33, Anthony Demas 61, Constantine Economos 41, Michael Elferis 27, Ana Fosteris 58, Dimitrios Gkrekiotis 56, Kenneth Grouzalis 56, Vasilios Haramis 56, Nicholas John 42, John Katsimatides 31, Danielle Kousoulis 29, Thomas Kouveikis 48, James Maounis 42, Philip Mastrandrea 42, George Merkouris 35, Stilianos Mousouroulis 38, Peter Moutos 44, Nikolaos Papadopoulos 29, James Papageorge 29, George Paris 33, Theodoros Pigis 60, Daphne Pouletsos 47, Richard Poulos 55, Stephen Poulos 45, Anthony Savas 72, Muriel Fay Siskopoulos 60, Timothy Soulas 35, Andrew Stergiopoulos 23, Michael Tarrou 38, Michael Theodoridis 32, William Tselepis 33, Jennifer Tzemis 26, and Procopios Zois 46.

It should be noted that 98th Street between 38th Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens has been renamed James Pappageorge Way in memory of firefighter James Papageorge. Also, 96th Street and Marine Avenue in Brooklyn was renamed in Siskopoulos Way in memory of Muriel Fay Siskopoulos.

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