ASTORIA – The Federation of Dodecanese Societies of America celebrated the 71st Anniversary of Unification with Greece on March 10 at the Saint Demetrios community’s Petros G. Patrides Cultural Center in Astoria. With Greeks from the Dodecanese as well as many other parts of Greece filled the hall, the festive and patriotic event featured keynote speaker His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey who has roots in Kalymnos.
John Sakellis of Kos, former Vice President of the Federation, gave the welcoming remarks and served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The National Anthems of the U.S. and Greece were then performed by Areti Marangos and Markos Pavlakis, respectively, to enthusiastic applause.
Dodecanese Federation President Maria Marangos noted that “historic memory is critical to the preservation of the Greek nation and we must give our children the values ??we have learned from our ancestors.”
“We are gathered here to pay tribute to all those who fought and sacrificed their lives, generation after generation. Our ancestors, during the years of slavery, did not bend, they did not give up, but they stood up, and bravely held onto their religion and language. This celebration is a tribute to them. We, the Dodecanese living abroad, let us keep the flame of love for Mother Greece immortal. The homeland Dodecanese and those living abroad should become one,” said Marangos.
Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, referred to the timeless value of the Dodecanese for Greece, and he also focused on their particular geographic position facing the Turkish challenges.
“I would like, honoring this anniversary, to send a message to the country that is neighboring the Dodecanese and our homeland here, from America, united and strong: Let’s tell them that the eternal Greeks, whether in the Dodecanese, or in general in Greece or wherever they live on Earth, are ready to give their blood to defend our homeland. This is the message from all Greeks around the world on the occasion of the Unification of the Dodecanese,” said Koutras, who was applauded enthusiastically by all those present.
His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey gave a historical retrospective, highlighting the “adventures” of the Dodecanese, until it was incorporated into Greece in 1948, having passed earlier through the hands of Turks, Italians, Hitler’s Germany, and Britain.
“Today, as the Greek community, we celebrate the 71st anniversary of the unification of the Dodecanese Islands. Today, we commemorate with gratitude all the heroes and heroines who fought for the rights of the Dodecanese and we pray for the rest of their souls.”
Moreover, His Eminence also noted the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the preservation of Greek and religious identity. “As is well known, the Sacred Metropolises of the Dodecanese are under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which surrounds them with much love and fatherly affection. The relationship with the Mother Church was the main reason that the Dodecanese maintained its Orthodoxy and its Greekness despite the difficult times.”
The dance portion of the event stole the show with the Dodecanese youth performing dances in traditional costume from all the islands of the Dodecanese, garnering enthusiastic applause. Musicians Andreas Goustas, John Themelis, Anastasis Sifounios, and Vasilis Vasiliadis performed the traditional songs live, impressing the audience, and giving the event a true taste of the Dodecanese.
Also among those present were Consul Lana Zochiou, the presiding priest of the St. Demetrios community Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, Fr. Anastasios Pourakis, and Parish Council President Emmanuel Dritsas.
His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, with roots in Kalymnos, spoke about the history and significance of the Dodecanese unification at the celebration in Astoria. Photo: TNH/Kostas Bej
The Dodecanese Federation of Societies celebrated the 71st anniversary of unification with the youth performing dances in traditional traditional costume in Astoria. Photo: TNH/Kostas Bej