To the Editor:
It is understandable that a newspaper focused on the Greek-American community should be supportive of that community’s efforts. But to print or allow to go unchallenged assertions that the Greek Independence Parade in New York this year was “supported by a huge crowd of people” or to state that there was an “excellent turnout” is a disservice to our community and is more in line with a cruel joke.
The fact is that this year’s parade was very poorly attended, and attendance has fallen sharply over the past few decades; I have been at the Parade every year since well before 1975 when attendance hit a record, due to the 1974 invasion of Cyprus; attendance has plummeted since then. Worse, over the past decade, it has been clear that marchers well outnumber spectators.
This year was particularly saddening to see our Evzones and children from many Greek-American schools marching to scant applause and support from sidelines, because of the lack of people attending.
The Parade itself, though, was well-organized, to the credit of the Federation of Hellenic Organizations of Greater New York, and other organizers.
The lack of attendance is a study in miniature of the declining self-interest and cohesion of the Greek-American community. Rather than evoking false congratulatory bravado, the lack of attendance should serve as a call to action to Greek-American organizations to redouble their efforts to stem the tide of apathy, and the lack of self-identity and pride among Greek-Americans in this country.
Getting people to the Parade to see for themselves who we are, what our accomplishments have been, the enthusiasm of a core of Greek-Americans who march in the Parade, and to recall the immense sacrifices of the heroes who made an independent Greece a reality and that of those who defend it even today can be the spark for a stronger self-identity and pride among the Greek-American community.
Would it be too much for the organizers of the Parade and its wealthy supporters next year and thereafter to take out ads in major print media like the New York Times and have radio spots on the major news networks urging Greek-Americans and Philhellenes to step up and stand up along Fifth Avenue in New York and support Greece for one afternoon in March?
Paul J. Kutscera, Esq.