The Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Community in Corona, NY paid tribute to the contribution of American Philhellenes and mutual struggles of the U.S. and Greece for freedom at a special event it held on Sunday March 20, 2011. The event was organized by the School of Transfiguration Cultural Committee as part of the events taking place all throughout the Greek American Community to honor the 190th anniversary of Greek Independence on March 25th. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. George Gianaris, a well known academician/author.
During his speech, Dr. Gianaris spoke about the difficult circumstances in which the first Greeks arrived in the United States, but noted that they were gradually able to climb up the social ladder and increase their economic and political clout, thus by extension, allowing them to help the Greek motherland. Dr. Gianaris also spoke about the role that American Philhellenes played in the Greek War of Independence.
“It is with particular happiness that I greet this lovely initiative undertaken by our community’s cultural committee to invite the highly respected Dr. Gianaris to speak to us here today. I also would like to express my hope that we will have the pleasure of welcoming him back regularly,” Rev. George Anastasiou, the community’s presiding priest said during his greeting. Rev. Anastasiou also stressed the importance of supporting cultural events within the Greek American Community, because “the road to lifelong learning and spiritual cultivation is a lifelong struggle.”
Longtime community official and cultural committee member Chris Vrettos emceed the event, and noted that the lecture was the second such event that this newly established committee is holding, following the successful tribute it put together honoring the 100-year-anniversary of the death of famous Greek author Alexandros Papadiamantis in early February.
“Today’s event highlights the important and beneficial role that the Greeks of the Diaspora played in Greece’s struggle to regain its freedom. Moreover, it brings to light information regarding the key support that the U.S. and the American people provided towards this end, and it is something that ought to be stressed, because there are some very moving examples of American Philhellenes who sacrificed their livelihood, families, and even their lives to fight alongside the Greek people,” Mr. Vrettos said.
Following Dr. Gianaris’ speech, a brief presentation on American Philhellenes’ contribution to Greek Independence followed by university instructor Christopher Tripoulas. The power point presentation he put together centered around Americans who fought in the Greek War of Independence such as George Jarvis (aka Kapetan Zervos), Jonathan P. Miller (adoptive father to the first Greek American U.S. Congressman Lucas Miltiades Miller), Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, Estwick Evans, William Townsend Washington, as well as the role that American politicians and academicians played in securing invaluable financial assistance for the Greek cause.
Following the end of the lecture, Rev. Anastasiou reiterated the importance of promoting Hellenism across America and the world today as well, to ensure that “we can pass on our love and passion for Greece to the next generation of Greeks of Diaspora, and contribute to the formation of new Philhellenes.”
Rev. Anastasiou also noted that “today, we can achieve this goal through our Greek schools, operating all across the Greek American Community. Help support this effort by backing Greek American parochial schools. Here at our 85-year-old community, we are fortunate enough to have an All-Day and Saturday school. Both of our schools serve a lofty purpose and need the support of the outlying community to continue their work.”
Mr. Vrettos called on the audience to remain sensitive to the challenges facing Greece and Hellenism today, and never to forget that “the Greeks of the Diaspora need to play a leading role in saving the country, just like they did in the past. Greece needs us Greeks of the Diaspora, and will always need us.”
Parish council president Leonidas Korachais thanked the audience for their turnout and pledged that many more such cultural events would follow in the months to come. “As you can see, we are in the midst of a promising new effort to build a brighter tomorrow for our community. We want you by our side during this effort.”
A reception followed afterwards courtesy of the Ladies Philoptochos Society.