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Events

Nashua City Hall Hosts Greek Independence Day Celebration

BOSTON – The customary annual celebration of Greek Independence Day, the National Anniversary of March 25th, 1821 marking the commencement of the Greek Revolution which brought freedom from Ottoman oppression was held by the Hellenes of Nashua, NH. The event was organized by the community of St. Philip and AHEPA Chapter 35, which was established exactly one hundred years ago, as explained by its president, Vasilis Papanikolaou, a retired physicist.

This year, the event was held in the ceremonial chamber of the town hall of Nashua due to severe weather conditions, including snowfall followed by torrential rain. The ‘Trisagion’ memorial service, which is performed annually at the Greek Monument located in the Greek Park of the city, was conducted by Fr. Paul Bebis, The monument was erected by the Chapter 35 and is dedicated to the pioneering Greek immigrants who came to the area and worked diligently for the future of their families, the city that hosted them, the state of New Hampshire, and the American Nation.

From the celebration of the 25th of March at the City Hall of Nashua, New Hampshire. Photo: TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos

The event was attended by Greek-American members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Efstathia Booras and Louis Juris, members of AHEPA, and the Greek Orthodox Youth of the community (GOYA).

The official Proclamation of the mayor of Nashua, Jim Donches, was read. He was represented by municipal councilor Patricia Klee.

Vasilis Papanikolaou, president of Chapter 35, was the main speaker at the event, providing a historical overview from classical times to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Among other things, Papanikolaou mentioned that “the classical era was followed by the influence of Macedonians under Alexander the Great who spread Greek civilization to the east up to India, and to the north of Africa. The Romans followed with the Roman Empire taking over. The Greeks, however, never abandoned their language, their traditions, and culture. Essentially, they regained their identity without a fight. The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great established … Constantinople (New Rome) as the capital in the east] to differentiate from the Rome of the west. The Byzantine Empire was generated taking the name from the ancient Greek city in that location… The Byzantine Empire lasted for about 1000 years and it became the cradle where the orthodox Christian dogma was refined through ecumenical synods and the ecclesiastical hymns composed.”

Vasilis Papanikolaou president of Chapter 35 of AHEPA speaks at the event of the 25th of March at the City Hall of Nashua, New Hampshire. Photo: TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos

He also said that “over the years emperors became complacent and ignored the threat of [the Seljuk and then the] Ottoman Turks coming from the east. Constantinople after a long siege fell to the Ottomans in the year 1453. Patriarch Gregory V did not comply with orders by the [Turkish] ruler and was hung by at middle gate of the patriarchate, which ever since has remained closed in remembrance.

Over the next 400 years Greeks remain oppressed, [losing their territory] and they were not able to follow the rest of the world in the Renaissance,  explorations, the scientific and technical revolutions and global trade. The revolution of 1821 was not the first attempt for freedom; however, all other attempts were unsuccessful.”

Then, a group of compatriots proceeded to the town hall square where, amidst heavy rain, where they raised the Greek flag. This year, the honor of raising the flag was bestowed upon the distinguished physician Dr. Sam Koutsoulakis, who was unable to attend, so he was represented by his children, Evangelos and Christina.

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