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Editorial

The Soul of Ypsilantis, the Soul of the Hellenic Diaspora

On the front page of Estia this week, the director of that historic newspaper, Manolis Kottakis, presented a moving piece of Hellenic history which discussed Alexandros Ypsilantis and his request that his heart be kept in Athens, the capital of the Greek state.

He writes, in part:

"A breath away from the Presidential Palace and the Maximos Palace in the Church of the Archangels, located at 6 Stisichorou Street, well kept for decades in a lekythos (a small, fragrant vessel), is the preserved heart of the founder of the Society of Friends. It was transferred there –  after [Alexandros Ypsilantis’] wish for it to be buried in Greece – in 1859 from Saint George of Vienna into the care of his wife Maria, of the Mourouzi family, without anyone knowing."

Although this information exists on Wikipedia, it takes on greater proportions when it appears in the commentary of the director of that newspaper.

Ypsilantis, a descendant of a Phanariote family, was of course one of the leaders of the famed Society of Friends. He fought for the independence of Greece, was wounded, and on January 29, 1828, died in extreme poverty in Vienna, where he took refuge.

For years I have been preoccupied to the point of anguish with the fact that many Greeks – not Greek Cypriots as much – do not have the knowledge and experience needed to understand us members of the Diaspora. To understand for example, how it is possible for a man, who was born abroad, can leave everything behind to go to war for Greece. How he can be wounded and then suffer abject poverty, and yet, before he dies, he asks to have his heart cut out and sent to… Greece.

It is not the fault of the children who do not understand. The ambiguous relationship between Greece and the Diaspora is to blame. It is to blame for the fact that from the beginning of the struggle for the freedom of Greece, the relations of the locals with those abroad were not the best, as the cases of Ypsilantis and Kapodistrias testify.

The fact that the story of Hellenes abroad is not part of the average Greek’s education is to blame. This knowledge was not integrated into Greek society, as it is in other states, i.e. Israel. Hence, despite the fact that Hellenes Abroad constitute a very important percentage of the Nation, Greece still does not have a coordinated Ministry of Hellenes Abroad. A ministry equal to the others.

The days of the 200th anniversary of the Revolution are approaching. The Prime Minister appointed a committee in a timely manner to prepare for the celebrations of this major historical event.

It is a great opportunity to emphasize the role of the Diaspora before and during the war, from Korais to the Society of Friends, in the launch and ultimate success of the Revolution. It is an opportunity to help affect the spiritual union of Greeks everywhere.

I do not know the committee's plans. However, due to the coronavirus, I would suggest that the timeframe for the events be extended for one year. From March 25, 2021 to March 25, 2022. That way, events marking this milestone anniversary can take place in major cities with large Hellenic populations all over the world.

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If it is true that a people cannot survive without the knowledge of their language, history, and culture, then this is many times more applicable to the children of the diaspora of that people.

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