AHEPA Honors Fallen Heroes of America

Arlington National Cemetery wreath-laying ceremony on May 24, 2019. Credit: AHEPA

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (The Order of AHEPA) honored ”those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and liberty” at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. on May 24.

Supreme President of the Association George Loucas, along with his father, Emmanuel, who served in the American Naval Reserves, his son Emmanuel, and Colonel Nicholas Vamvakias, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Their act of commemoration was on behalf of all the members of the American Hellenic community.

A press release from AHEPA notes that Supreme President Loucas said ”this was one of the most powerfully moving experiences of my life.” He added that “today, we honored the sacrifices of those throughout our nation’s history who paid the ultimate price, and we expressed—in a small yet significant way—our community’s gratitude to our nation’s fallen.

“It was also especially meaningful to perform this ceremony at this time in our nation’s history when our brave men and women continue to be in harm’s way,” Loucas concluded.

AHEPA has kept alive the tradition of honoring America’s heroes since the year 1924.

This year, an Honor Guard Specialist from the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) assisted them, and a U.S. Army Band bugler also played Taps. Since 1924, Ahepans have returned annually to Arlington to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Credit: AHEPA

AHEPA family members from the Mid-Atlantic Region then gathered on May 25 for a special memorial service for those identified as Greek-Americans or Greek Orthodox who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, following a tradition initiated in 1949.

AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope members presented a wreath at an estimated 568 gravesites, and paused in remembrance of those who had perished for the American nation.

AHEPA was founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles of fighting for civil rights and against the discrimination, bigotry, and hatred many immigrants at the time were experiencing from the Ku Klux Klan.

AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.