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VIDEO

Dodecanese Federation Celebrated 76th Anniversary of Unification with Greece (Vid & Pics)

March 11, 2024

ASTORIA – The Federation of Dodecanese Societies USA celebrated the 76th anniversary of the Unification of the Dodecanese with Greece on March 10 beginning with the Divine Liturgy, Artoklasia and Doxology at St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria followed by a commemoration and cultural event in the Petros Patrides Center.

Assistant priest at the Cathedral Fr. Gedeon Varytimos and Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas presided over the services and gave the opening prayer at the event. Fr. Vithoulkas, who has roots in Kos, noted that it was an honor for him to participate in the celebration on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. “Today, I am standing before you with a heart full of pride and respect to recognize and honor the unification of the Dodecanese with mother Greece,” he said, “This is not only to honor the Greek nation’s move towards unity, freedom, and justice, it is also an opportunity to show our unchanging love and the unending hope that characterizes the Greek people.”

He added that as presiding priest at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, he is familiar with the gravity of the meaning of freedom, justice, and hope and he thanks God that he is from a place that taught him how significant they are. The anniversary of unification is not just an opportunity for celebration but also to remember the struggle for freedom and justice. “I hope the Federation continues its efforts to bring the light of knowledge and of our experiences to the younger generations, so that our legacy will continue and live and breathe for the good of the people and our Church,” he said.

The Federation of Dodecanese Societies USA celebrated the 76th anniversary of the Unification of the Dodecanese with Greece on March 10 at St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Fr. Varytimos also shared his greetings, noting that “these are Greeks, each person with his own struggle, pain, worries, sweat, but they accomplished what their soul and heart desired, to be united as one Greece, one mother Greece… may you be worthy to continue honoring your ancestors.”

Nikos Kartalis served as Master of Ceremonies for the cultural event, giving the welcoming remarks and introducing the speakers. He thanked everyone for attending the celebration and noted the presence of Dr. Ioannis Arapis who represented the committee on the 200th anniversary of the Kasos Massacre, Amorgos Foundation Honorary President Nikos Gavalas, Amorgos Foundation President Nikitas Theologitis, Pan-Laconian Federation of U.S. and Canada former president Theodore Pavlakos, and past presidents of the Dodecanese Federation Theologos Tiliakos and George Andriotis.

Dodecanese Federation President Maria Marangos, in her remarks, welcomed everyone to the celebration, and noting the significance of Dodecanese unification and how the diaspora played a key role. She urged everyone to continue to maintain the traditions, language, and faith as well as the associations and societies for the younger generations to preserve our unique ethnic identity abroad. Marangos concluded with best wishes for everyone, the Dodecanese and all Greeks.

Fr. Gedeon Varytimos and Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas during the Artoklasia service for the Federation of Dodecanese Societies USA on March 10 at St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Dr. Ioannis Arapis spoke about the many events planned in Athens, in Kasos and other islands, for the commemoration of 200th anniversary of the Kasos Massacre. He said that he is proud to be from Kasos and the Dodecanese, noting that each island is independent but when it mattered, they were together. Dr. Arapis wished everyone health and praised all those present for their commitment to the traditions of the islands and for their dedication to family.

Dr. Eirini Grapsia, former Acting Coordinator of Education for the Consulate General of Greece in New York, was the keynote speaker for the event and pointed out the undisputed Hellenic identity of the Dodecanese which is documented going back at least to ancient times. She highlighted the history of the Dodecanese, mentioning famous figures from the past including Hippocrates of Kos and also the monuments such as the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Monastery of St. John on the island of Patmos. Dr. Grapsia also noted the various invasions and occupations through the centuries including the 31 years of Italian occupation with a systematic effort by the Italians to undermine the foundations of the Dodecanese society, the Orthodox Church, Greek education, but the people of the Dodecanese stood up and fought back. She noted the heroic efforts during World War II of Dodecanesians and added that the first governor of the islands after unification was a Greek-American doctor from Kasos. Dr. Grapsia also mentioned the moving story from Kalymnos when the unification finally took place, the square was suddenly empty of all locals because they had gone to the cemetery to tell their ancestors the news. The contributions and efforts for unification by the Dodecanesians living outside of the islands were also highlighted, in America, Egypt, and Athens. She added that even after unification the various societies and the Federation continued their efforts for Greece and the issues of national interest including participating in protests against the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus.

The talented musicians Anastasios Sifounios and Athanasios Kavounidis performed during the 76th anniversary of Dodecanese unification with Greece. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Three esteemed Dodecanesians who have made great contributions to the community were then honored at the event, Timoleon Kokkinos of Nisyros whose daughter and grandson accepted the award on his behalf, Manolis Cassotis of Karpathos, and Demosthenis Triantafillou of Nisyros who shared famous quotes from the ancient Greeks which he noted should be restored in Greek classrooms because they encourage the youth. The future he said is bright for the Dodecanese because we have good young people.

The event continued with the Federation dance group and those from the societies of Symi, Nisyros, Kasos, and Kalymnos performing in traditional costume. The talented musicians Anastasios Sifounios and Athanasios Kavounidis also performed traditional island songs and all those present joined in the dancing.

Dr. Ioannis Arapis, at the podium, spoke the 200th anniversary of the Kasos Massacre. Nikos Kartalis, Federation of Dodecanese Societies 1st Vice President, is seen at right. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
Keynote speaker Dr. Eirini Grapsia and Nikos Kartalis, Federation of Dodecanese Societies 1st Vice President, at right. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
performed at the celebration of the 76th anniversary of Dodecanese unification with Greece. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
The Nisyros dance group performed at the celebration of the 76th anniversary of Dodecanese unification with Greece. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
The Kasos dance group performed at the celebration of the 76th anniversary of Dodecanese unification with Greece. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
The Kalymnos Society dance group performed at the celebration of the 76th anniversary of Dodecanese unification with Greece. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

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