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Associations

EMBCA Discussion Highlights AHEPA’s Centennial and Contributions

March 15, 2022

NEW YORK – The East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA) presented the Order of AHEPA (1922-2022): A Century of Service to America and Hellenism panel discussion online on March 13 in association with AHEPA and AHEPA’s National Hellenic Cultural Commission.

The informative discussion was moderated by Lou Katsos, EMBCA’s President and AHEPA National Hellenic Cultural Commission Chairman. The distinguished panel included AHEPA Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas; AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaides; historian/author Professor Alexander Kitroeff of Haverford College; author/poet Nicholas Alexiou, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Hellenic American Project at Queens College; Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, Wyoming State Senator Stephan Pappas, Connecticut State Representative Nicole Klarides-Ditria, and California State Senator Andreas Borgeas. The legislators participated from Thessaloniki where they were about to attend a conference.

“Established on July 26, 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, the fraternal Order of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) was founded by eight visionary Hellenic immigrants to help unify, organize, and protect against the bigotry, discrimination, and defamation faced by people of all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds perpetrated predominantly by the Ku Klux Klan,” according to the EMBCA website. “It is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Hellenic heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. The stated mission of AHEPA is to promote the ancient Hellenic ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism.”

“AHEPA has instilled in its members an understanding of their Hellenic heritage and an awareness of the contributions made by Greece to the development of democratic principles and governance in the United States and throughout the world,” as noted on EMBCA’s website. “Since 1922 AHEPA has contributed over $1 billion to worthy causes, and have donated $1 million to the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine which is nearing completion.”

The panel also focused on the 75th anniversary of the Truman Doctrine as well as the upcoming events related to AHEPA and the centennial celebration set for Orlando, Florida in July.

AHEPA Executive Director Mossaides shared his thoughts on the centennial and “the trailblazing organization that set the standard for what Greek America means today.”

Supreme President Kokotas noted the many stories he has heard over the years of the early Ahepans and their contributions but pointed out that many of those stories have been lost or were not documented. He also mentioned the contributions during World War II, including the sale of war bonds.

Professor Alexiou spoke about AHEPA and the Hellenic American Project at Queens College and how the archive is working with the organization. Slides showcased some of the items in the archive, including a copy of the AHEPA constitution from 1946.

Professor Kitroeff spoke about his book on the AHEPA centennial and shared some of his preliminary findings, noting that he is “a student of the Greek experience in America” and “volunteered to write the history” as the 100th anniversary was approaching. He pointed out that the order has given him access to the archives.

Katsos spoke about AHEPA Supreme President from 1942-45 George Vournas, a major in the OSS and a friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was a member of AHEPA, and the efforts during WWII with the war bonds, and the 122nd Battalion which was named in honor of the 122nd anniversary of the Hellenic Revolution.

Kokotas also spoke about the effort to help the Greek adoptees regain their Greek citizenship. He pointed out that AHEPA is a service organization and will try to do what they can to help for the good of Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Kokotas said that the centennial convention in Florida will “honor the history, honor the people that came before us, honor their contributions and motivate our youth to join us in this service.”

More information is available online: https://embca.com.

Video of the panel discussion is also available online:

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