Remembering the Greek-American Fallen Heroes of 9/11

Credit: wikimedia commons

Today marks nineteen years since the cowardly terrorist attacks in New York City on 9/11. All communities in the United States are commemorating their fallen heroes today, along with many in the rest of the world who lost their sons and daughters in the brutal attack.

Of the nearly 3,000 people who perished on September 11, 2001 – a day that will never be forgotten – 39 were Greek-Americans. Today, 19 years later, the grim memories remain intense for the families of those unjustly lost and for all of those who believe in freedom and peace.

In a recent 60 Minutes report, Anthoula Katsamatides of New York spoke about her brother, 31-year-old bond trader John Katsamatides, who had worked in the Towers. Having discovered the old St. Nicholas Church on a lunch break, his sister recalled, he was known to go there on his breaks to, as she said, “light a candle and say a prayer for peace.”

The Greek Orthodox church, which was the only place of worship to be destroyed in the attacks, is taking shape once again next to the World Trade Center Memorial Plaza. The translucent walls of its new dome will be lit up from inside at night and glow like a marble beacon of light when it opens next year, on September 11, 2021.

The St. Nicholas National Shrine, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, will replace the tiny church that was crushed by the trade center’s south tower on September 11, 2001.

According to the architect, the building was designed to follow the shape of the Virgin Mary’s body, with the dome representing her head and the sides of the structure representing her shoulders as she cradled the infant Jesus Christ on her lap.

Jesus’ body is now represented by the faithful who will be inside the welcoming arms of the building after it is reopened next September.

The new church will give Greek Orthodox believers a place to worship, while also welcoming visitors of any faith who would like to reflect on the lives lost in the terrorist attacks and pay homage to their memory.

As Katsamatides told CBS interviewer Scott Pelley, the new shrine will be “a place of love and hope for all the family members and all those who want to go and pay their respects.” She plans to go there with her mother to light a candle in John’s memory when it opens on this day next year.

Below is the list of the Greek-American victims (some believed to be Greek because of their names) issued by the New York City Coroner’s office.

Joanne Marie Ahladiotis, 27
Ernest Alifakos, 43
Arlene T. Babakitis, 47
Katherine Bantis, 48
Peter Brennan, 30
Thomas A. Damaskinos, 33
Anthony Demas, 61
Constantine (Gus) Economos, 41
Michael J. Elferis, 27
Ana Fosteris, 58
Jimmy Grekiotis
Kenneth G. Grouzalis, 56
Steven M. Hagis, 31
Vasilios G. Haramis, 56
Nicholas John, 42
John Katsimatides, 31
Danielle Kousoulis, 29
Thomas Kuveikis, 48
James Maounis, 42
Philip William Mastrandrea, Jr 42
George Merkouris, 35
Stilianos Mousouroulis
Peter C. Moutos, 44
Nikos Papadopoulos/Papas, 29
James N. Pappageorge, 29
George Paris, 33
Theodoros Pigis, 60
Daphne Pouletsos, 47
Richard N. Poulos, 55
Stephen E. Poulos, 45
Anthony Savas, 72
Muriel Fay Siskopoulos, 60
Timothy Patrick Soulas, 35
Andrew Stergiopoulos, 23
Michael C. Tarrou, 38
Michael Theodoridis, 32
William P. Tselepis, 33
Jennifer Tzemis, 26
Prokopios Paul Zois, 46

Rebuilding St. Nicholas Shrine