Left to right: Paul Pavlakos, Basil Katsamakis, Argyris S. Argitakos, Zikos Tsokas, Peter Ragoussis, Mike Labatos, Theodore P. Klingos, Dean Moskos, Louis Katsos, Chris Pappis, George Eliopoulos, Michael Papaphotes, Dimitrios Pamboukes, and Denis Seretakos. Photo: Zafeiris Haitidis
NEW YORK – The Manhattan Chapter of The Order of AHEPA, Delphi #25, in conjunction with the AHEPA Empire State District 6 (NYS) and AHEPA National Hellenic Commission, hosted a special and historic event on April 30, belatedly commemorating the dearly-departed AHEPA Delphi 25 member, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), on the 75th anniversary of the presentation of the FDR bust by Delphi Chapter #25 at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, NY. The event was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
President Roosevelt, while Governor of New York State, became a member of AHEPA joining the Delphi Chapter #25 in New York City on March 11, 1931 and remained a lifelong dues-paying member until his death. In 1945, Delphi Chapter commissioned a bust of FDR and it was placed within the grounds of the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, NY. Over 1,500 people were in attendance at the unveiling ceremony on October 28, 1945, including Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, many prominent U.S. government officials, as well as the leadership of AHEPA. Regrettably President Roosevelt had passed away on April 12, 1945. His Eminence Athenagoras, then-Archbishop of North & South America (and later Ecumenical Patriarch) commenced the unveiling ceremony with a Trisagion prayer ceremony.
The event on April 30, in commemoration of the unveiling ceremony, reenacted the events of 1945. The National Anthems of Hellas and USA were sung by Ms. Eli Rizo at the gravesite of President and Mrs. Roosevelt. This was immediately followed by a Trisagion prayer by Fr. Jason Dickey, presiding priest of Kimisis tis Theotokou of Poughkeepsie. A memorial wreath was laid at the Roosevelt’s tomb by the leadership of the Empire State District 6 Lodge and Delphi Chapter #25. As it was a beautiful spring morning, the event was well-attended by approximately 50 guests and several onlookers.
The attendees then proceeded to the nearby Delphi Chapter bust of FDR to pay homage and take photos as was done in 1945. Then, in the Henry A. Wallace Center within the compound of the FDR Presidential Library and Home, all were greeted and welcomed by Delphi Chapter President Theodore Klingos, as well as District 6 Governor Dean Moskos. Acting Director of the FDR facility William Harris gave a brief presentation on FDR pointing out that FDR personally mandated that only two statues adorn the vast multi-acre compound: that of AHEPA and another by the Women’s Amalgamated Workers of America.
Louis Katsos, Chairman of the AHEPA National Hellenic Cultural Commission (past-District 6 Governor and past-president of Delphi #25), presented a detailed and informative presentation expounding on the historical perspectives of AHEPA, FDR’s involvement with AHEPA, and Delphi Chapter 25. All were impressed with this presentation, including Anastasia Shattner-Somkopoulos, who traveled from California to attend this event as her great uncle, Antonios Manganis, Delphi 25 Secretary at the time, was present at FDR’s initiation ceremony in 1931. All in attendance received a copy of the book Conversations with FDR at His AHEPA Initiation by AHEPA Delphi 25 member Leonidas V. Georgiou, published in 2019. Lunch and refreshments were then served, followed by a tour of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library.
Brief History of The Order of AHEPA and Delphi Chapter #25
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization. Its scope is international with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Europe, and “sister” chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia. AHEPA this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary, as it was founded on July 26, 1922, in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society.
AHEPA’s Delphi Chapter #25 was founded in 1923 in Manhattan and was the first Chapter in New York State. The Delphi Chapter #25 was instrumental in welcoming the early Greek immigrants to the USA as they disembarked at Ellis Island and helping them with their assimilation into the American culture by assisting them with learning the English language, finding employment, and eventually becoming citizens of the United States.
The Delphi Chapter #25, in addition to the late President FDR, has had many notable and prominent members in its history, including many philhellenes who embraced AHEPA’s ideals and values. In 1924 Seraphim G. Canoutas joined Delphi Chapter #25 and later served as Chapter President, he was at the time the most notable historian and the primary source for the 1880 to 1920 wave of Greek immigrants. Some of the many distinguished members that followed in Delphi’s rich history were Past Chapter Presidents and later Past Supreme Presidents of AHEPA Dean Alfange and Dr. Kimon Doukas. Other notable past Presidents of Delphi Chapter #25 include the Honorable Federal Judge Nicholas Tsoucalas.
Currently the AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25 is one of the most vibrant Chapters of The Order of AHEPA; following a dynamic revitalization this AHEPA Chapter, based in Manhattan, has grown to be the largest Chapter in the entire global AHEPA domain and has been recognized with many awards and citations including most recently being awarded as the 2019 Chapter of the Year Award at the AHEPA Supreme Convention in Chicago. The Chapter vibrantly continues on today in the tradition of AHEPA’s ideals and values of promoting Education and Hellenism through many efforts of public service and philanthropy.
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