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Hellenic parade celebrates Greek independence in San Francisco March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Some celebrants were dressed like heroic Greek freedom fighters from the early 19th century. Others donned the colorful, festive costumes of traditional dancers.

The Hellenic Cultural Parade in downtown San Francisco on Saturday culminated a weeklong celebration of all things Greek, from music to politics, history, philosophy, religion and food.

Led by a contingent of police officers on horseback, the parade drew sparse crowds along Market Street on its way to City Hall, but the revelers’ effusive spirit and cultural icons shone through.

“This is our way to remember and celebrate,” said George Katsoulis, an Oakland resident who carried the Olympic torch in the ancient Greek city of Argos in 2004. “To commemorate Greek independence day in any way is an honor. The music, the dance, the remembrance of our ancestors.” Katsoulis strode up Market Street, holding two symbols of peace, an olive branch in one hand and an unlit Olympic torch from 2004 in the other. Christine Diacou Hay of San Francisco revealed her Greek roots by shouting “Hronia pola!” – or long life, to the torch bearer.

This year’s celebration marked the 187th anniversary of Greek independence, dating to when rebels began their fight for independence after centuries of occupation by the Ottoman Empire.

“It was the beginning in Europe of nations waking up to self-determination, freedom, choice and democracy,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Gerasimos, who leads 175,000 Greek Orthodox faithful in seven Western states, wore a traditional black robe similar to those worn by Greek clergy when the church was suppressed by the Ottomans.

Jim Vorrises, Vice President of the United Hellenic Federation of California, said: “Every year we celebrate the same event, remembering the fight of our forefathers to secure independence and freedom of the Greek nation. Those people had faith in God, faith in themselves and destiny.”

This was the 10th annual celebration of its kind in San Francisco, though others said the local tradition of marking Greek independence goes back for decades.

Among the highlights of this year’s celebration was a float bearing a replica of the Acropolis, or Sacred rock, of Athens, with four Greek muses in white gowns, smiling and waving to the crowd. Another float featured a mockup of a wooden boat, variously described as the ship sailed by Ulysses. 

Near the steps of City Hall, hundreds of spectators were serenaded by a vibrant Greek solo. Dancers in ceremonial costumes from the Island of Crete performed before a reviewing stand filled with dignitaries including Xenia Stefanidou, the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco.

“They feel proud of their ethnicity,” said journalist Savas Deligiorgis, who presents a Greek American program on KVTO-AM 1400, a San Francisco radio station, “because they always fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.” Ted Giouzelis of San Leandro, who was born in Sparta and raised in Athens, praised people of Greek ancestry as “hospitable, hardworking and lovers of knowledge.” 

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Greek Independence Day Parade in Montreal, Canada March 26, 2008

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The Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM), in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Community of Laval, is organizing their annual March 25th Parade commemorating Greece’s Revolution in 1821 against the Ottoman Empire.

The two hour parade will start at 1 p.m. March 30, 2008. It will run along Jean Talon St., beginning at Hutchinson St. and ending at l’Acadie Blvd. This year’s grand Marshall is Tom Kostopoulos from the Montreal Canadians.

Thousands of Montrealers of Greek heritage as well as Philhellenes are going to be gathered along Jean Talon Street to salute war veterans, community leaders, but most of all Hellenic youth. The Hellenic Community invites the population of Montreal to come and join in the celebration. For any information about the parade or other festivities plan please call (514) 738-2421.

Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM), 5777 Avenue Wilderton, Montreal, QC H3S 2V7, Tel (514) 738-2421, Fax 514 738 5466, www.hcm-chm.org

On the occasion of Greece’s National Day on March 25 March 23, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Greece News, Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Message of Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Theodoros P. Kassimis, to all Greeks residing abroad >

Dear Compatriots,

It is with great pleasure and emotion that I am communicating with you on this historical day [25 March 1821] of National rebirth that brings to our minds so many memories and which is full of meaningful messages to Greeks, all over the world.

187 years ago, our ancestors, deprived of any substantial material means and falling short in number, motivated by the dream of a free homeland, fought against not only a powerful enemy but also against the prevailing status quo, which was dominant in Europe of the 19th century. It was an unequal fight, and seemingly destined to fail; however they won. They won because they believed in what nobody could even conceive, sacrificing their lives in the battlegrounds, unwilling to compromise themselves with the idea of defeat, which would have resulted in the loss of the dream of freedom. They won giving to us a free Greece, which with many efforts, sacrifices and hard work has earned the respect and the appreciation of its partners amongst the Nations.

187 years after, the challenges that our country is facing are different but not less important, consisting in the preservation of its territorial integrity, the protection of its cultural legacy and the defense of its rights. The battles are fought on a daily basis, not on battlegrounds, but in various fora, and as Greeks we are expected to prove that we are worthy of the legacy that our ancestors left us. We should never forget that what they achieved was the result of unity and resolve in the final cause. Let us then proceed as of this day, guided by the very same elements, proving once more to the rest of the world that the greatness of nations is not computed and measured by digits, numbers and material means, but by the heart, the courage and the grit shown whenever circumstances are challenging and demanding. We owe this to our ancestors, and furthermore to our children and ourselves.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all health and prosperity, and I avail myself of this opportunity to extend to you my warmest patriotic greetings.

Theodoros P. Kassimis.

It’s not all Greek to the Australians any more March 21, 2008

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Victoria’s traditional migrant communities are declining as new arrivals from Asia challenge their size and influence. Census data shows Melbourne’s boast as the biggest Greek city outside Greece is under threat as community numbers steadily fall.

The state’s Greek-born population fell by 3000 to 54,324 between 2001 and 2006, the figures reveal. With migration from Greece virtually non-existent, the Greek-born dropped from third biggest community to sixth during the five-year period.

Even when generations born here are taken into account, the decline is apparent. In 2006, 117,876 Victorians said they spoke Greek at home, 4 per cent less than the previous Census.

Rockbank farmer Christos Kartalis, 69, was part of the Mediterranean migration boom of the 1950s and 1960s when hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Italians poured into Australia. Mr Kartalis grows fruit and vegetables and makes wine, a skill he learned from his father in northern Greece. “I’d like to pass this on to my daughter, or to her husband when she gets married,” he said.

Mr Kartalis’s daughter Zoyee said it was important to preserve this knowledge for future generations before it was lost. “Simple things like making good food and wine, that’s part of my Greek culture,” she said. “Culture is really important to me, without it you have no identity.”

At the last Census, 156,000 Victorians claimed Greek ancestry, while 308,000 residents had Italian heritage. Like the Greeks, the Italian-born community is declining, down 8000 to 82,849 between 2001 and 2006. The biggest group, the UK-born, also decreased, but this is expected to turn around by the next Census given a recent surge in British skilled arrivals.

After the Brits, the Italians are still the number two group in Victoria, but Asian arrivals are quickly catching up. By 2006, the number of Vietnamese-born grew to 58,877, while the Chinese-born population rose by more than 50 per cent to 56,560.

Proclamation by the US President > Greek Independence Day March 21, 2008

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GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY > 25th March 1821

US President proclaims March 25 a day of celebration in America > US President George W. Bush issued a statement proclaiming March 25 as a “day of celebration of Greek and American democracy” in the USA.

March 25 is Greek Independence Day, a National holiday in Greece, and Bush said the day would help “commemorate the heritage of freedom our countries hold dear” and remember “the Greek Americans whose strong spirit, resolve and courage helped shape America.”

Proclamation by the US President > Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy, 2008

On Greek Independence Day, we recognize the important contributions Greek Americans have made to our national character, celebrate the deep friendship between our two countries, and honor the anniversary of the Greek call for independence.

The United States and Greece share a close relationship based on our common belief in the power of freedom. The ancient Athenians gave birth to the principles of democracy, and America’s Founding Fathers were inspired by Greek ideals that honored and respected human dignity and rights. When the people of Greece claimed their independence in 1821, they had the strong support of the United States. Greek patriots risked their lives because they knew freedom and democracy were both their proud legacy and their ultimate destiny. Today, our nations remain allies in the cause of freedom and are working to lay the foundations of peace and spread the blessings of liberty around the world.

In celebrating Greek Independence Day, we commemorate the heritage of freedom our countries hold dear, and we remember the Greek Americans whose strong spirit, resolve, and courage helped shape America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 25, 2008, as Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Source: White House Press Office > http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/03/20080320-5.html

The remains of 10 Greek soldiers returned February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Cyprus Occupied, Greek Diaspora.
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Soldiers carry the remains of 10 Greek soldiers, killed while fighting invading Turkish forces on Cyprus in 1974, which were returned to their relatives in Nicosia yesterday.

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The soldiers had been buried in a multiple grave in the aftermath of the invasion 34 years ago.

Greeks of the Diaspora celebrate our National Day October 27, 2007

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Greek Community of Toronto: Canadians of Greek Heritage Celebrate the 67th Anniversary of “OXI Day”

On Sunday, October 28th, 2007 Canadians of Greek descent commemorate the 67th Anniversary of “OXI Day”. Greece, the birthplace of democracy said “OXI” (NO) to fascism and defended its birthright, despite overwhelming and unfavourable odds. The result of this stern message was powerful, and ignited unprecedented grass-roots resistance against the forces of fascism.

Greece’s decision to resist the fascist forces played a “pivotal role” in WW II. As retired General and former Supreme NATO Commander, Andrew J. Goodpaster, wrote:

“As the years pass, it becomes more and more necessary to recall and record for new generations just how the people of Greece, alone or with allies, gained and held for their country for a century and more the independence and democracy it possesses today -and how in one special moment in history Greece at heavy cost and sacrifice and with great courage and determination played a pivotal role in World War II in defying great forces of tyranny and Axis aggression that were arrayed against not only Greece but the whole of Civilization. It is an inspiring history.”

Today in Greece and places like Toronto the memory of “OXI Day” is celebrated with religious services and parades.

“The 28th of October is not just a simple historic memory: it is a reminder of the highest values and virtues of Hellenism; the passion for justice; the courage in the time of trial; the unity in the midst of conflict, and willingness to offer up oneself or herself for the good of others. On this day we remember both the sacrifices and legacy of “OXI Day”, said Costas Menegakis, President, Greek Community of Toronto.

This year’s Anniversary of “OXI DAY” will be held in GreekTown on the Danforth. The parade will start at Eastern High School of Commerce (Danforth and Donlands) at 1:00 PM and will end west of Chester and Danforth.

Related Links > http://www.greekcommunity.org