The Significance of the Demonstration

Surely, more Greek-Americans could have gathered at Athens Square Plaza in Astoria on Sunday to declare their solidarity with the inhabitants of the North Aegean islands in the face of the migration crisis.

Of course, those who attended were not few. On the contrary, I would say it was more than many expected.

And, in addition, many more watched the live broadcast of the rally on The National Herald’s websites and on Facebook – more than 70,000 people around the world.

That is no small feat, especially when one considers the disappointments and bitterness we have experienced in the past.

The participation of so many people shows their fear about the situation. That they have reached their limits.

That they feel the need to do something – whatever they can – to protect their homes, their possessions, and their inheritances that are back on their islands.

Certainly the locked houses of Diaspora Greeks are at risk of being occupied by migrants/refugees – some may already be occupied.

Our fellow Greek-Americans receive messages of despair from their loved ones in Greece every day.

A person who does not feel very strongly about an issue does not wake up on a Sunday and run to a demonstration.

There have been countless times in the past when the Community has demonstrated for Greek national issues.

The largest demonstrations in the history of the Diaspora were for the Cyprus issue, in New York (outside the United Nations) and in Washington (near the White House) after the Turkish invasion of 1974. Tens of thousands of Hellenes from all over the United States took to the streets demanding U.S. intervention to force the Turks to withdraw their illegal occupation troops from Cyprus.

Later, in 1992, the Macedonian issue arose. Again, the Community took massive action. The people were passionate.

The response emerged from the souls and collective memories of the Greeks.

And now we have arrived at the migration crisis.

Unfortunately, the results from the 1974 and 1992 demonstrations were disappointing.

The Cyprus issue continues to develop year after year – and not for the better. We could not have imagined then that not only would the occupation troops not withdraw by 2020 and that Cyprus would not be united, but on the contrary, that we are facing new, possibly very negative developments.

On the Macedonian front, we had said that we would never accept the word ‘Macedonia’ as the name granted to Skopje. We were sure of that.

And yet, we accepted it. It is officially and internationally called Northern Macedonia.

But on this particular issue – migration – Greece is master of its own fate. The nation controls its borders and the government is on top of the situation.

So the demonstration that took place in Athens Square Plaza – a square that reminds us of the late Dennis Syntilas, the driving force behind its creation – has two goals:

First, to emphatically express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Greece.

And second, to express our support for the current government, which is handling this issue very well.


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