PEABODY, MA – The Greek flag was raised at Peabody City Hall on March 22 in celebration of Greek Independence Day with locals, elected officials, and members of the Greek community in attendance, The Salem News (TSN) reported.
“The holiday is officially observed on March 25 and marks the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821, during which the Greeks fought for their freedom from the Ottoman Empire,” TSN reported, adding that “the war ended in 1832 when the Ottomans’ 400 year rule of the region was overthrown and the independent kingdom of Greece was formed.”
Dressed in traditional costume, the students of St. Vasilios Greek School sang the Greek National Anthem at the event, celebrating Greek Independence and Greek culture, TSN reported.
“This just reminds us of what home is and what our parents and grandparents went through when they came here and raised us,” Lynn resident Athanasia Nikou told TSN at the flag raising.
“Nikou and her family go back to Greece to visit her grandparents and other family there as often as they can, she said,” TSN reported, noting that Nikou’s 6-year-old daughter was among the students from St. Vasilios Greek School singing at the event on March 22.
“The school teaches children from age three to 7th grade Greek culture and language two afternoons a week next to St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church in Peabody,” TSN reported, adding that “sixty-three students from Peabody and surrounding communities are enrolled in the century-old school” and are “taught in preparation for the Ellinomatheia, an official Greek language proficiency test that is recognized by the Greek government.”
“Dina Kalaitzidis attended the school as a child and has been its principal since 2010,” TSN reported. She told TSN that “the kids who attend are proud of their culture and excited to share it through events like Wednesday’s flag raising.”
“We not only commemorate the sacrifices of our ancestors, but also celebrate the contributions of Greek Americans to our city,” Kalaitzidis told TSN. “Just seeing the Greek flag as I drive by resonates, because there’s so many Greek immigrants who came to Peabody.”
Among those immigrants was Kalaitzidis’ grandfather, “who worked in the city’s leather industry when he first arrived in America,” TSN reported. “We’re very proud of our heritage here in Peabody,” she told TSN.
“Mayor Ted Bettencourt, joined by state Rep. Tom Walsh and city councilors Pete McGinn and Julie Daigle, read a resolution from city officials to declare March 22 as Greek Independence Day this year in Peabody,” TSN reported, adding that “he noted Peabody is home to the largest Greek Orthodox community in New England.”
“We have a lot to be proud of (in Peabody), and it’s because of the Greek community and the Portuguese community, the Irish and so many others, who really were the foundations and building blocks of this community and have contributed in so many countless ways to the city that we love and adore,” Mayor Bettencourt said, TSN reported.