The struggle, the agony, and the determination of Hellenes Abroad to preserve their roots can be seen in our great national holidays, such as the March 25th celebrations.
On these days in particular I have great admiration for the participation, in a sacred way, of the Greek-Americans, but also of all of Hellenism abroad – from
Chicago to Johannesburg to Toronto to Melbourne and to everywhere in between.
From one part of America to the other, young and old alike put aside their jobs, their schoolwork and their family obligations to honor the heroes of 1821 – the generation of Greeks who against all reason took to the mountains,valleys and sea, barefoot, armed with weapons at least a generation behind the Turks’, ready to sacrifice themselves for the restoration of their homeland after 400 years of slavery. Yes, after 400 years in Greece – and centuries longer in Asia Minor, Hellenic land that was never liberated.
These people rose up to liberate a homeland that they themselves had never known as a free and independent state, but the mission was passed on to them as a myth and vision from generation to generation.
“Freedom or death!” they thundered as they hurled themselves into battle – they could have also shouted “now or never!”
I maintain my undiminished admiration for the parents, children, and teachers who passionately recreate and preserve for future generations of the Community the exploits of those demigod Greeks, distant glorious ancestors from whom, I have no doubt, they receive inspiration for their own lives from the energy, faith, and glorious example of the Heroes of 1821.
But I feel the same way about the great men and women today, who, despite the shortcomings of the organizations they work within, spend precious time raising the Greek flag at city halls across America while singing our National Anthem to honor their glorious ancestry.
These days The National Herald overflows with photos and texts from parades, from school celebrations and other events, energized by the eternal sacred bond of generations throughout the centuries. It is the justification, in part, of the need for its existence.
However, I continue to be angered by the still incomplete recognition of the invaluable contributions of Hellenism Abroad to the national resurrection.
Adamantios Koraes, for example, the man who laid the spiritual and intellectual foundations for making the case for the debt that Europeans and Americans owed to the ancient Greeks to liberate the modern Greeks, is vilified by a segment of the complex Greek intellectual elite.
And to this day, the remarkable role of the Society of Friends is not adequately explained.
(I also agonize over the current state of the house in Odessa, Ukraine, that was used by the Society of Friends and is maintained in roughly the same condition as it was in 1821).
I wonder what percentage of the current generation of Greeks know about the contribution of the Society of Friends to the Revolution, not to mention the names of its founders.
Nevertheless, Hellenism Abroad insists on fighting, remaining loyal, and exclaiming:
Long live March 25th!
Long live Hellenism abroad!
Long live Greece!