Celebration Of Greek Independence Day
On March 22, the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria hosted its 11th annual celebration of Greek Independence Day. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall were in attendance as was Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.
“I am happy and proud to be here with Borough President Marshall, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and members of my community to celebrate another Greek Independence Day. There is no better place than here in Astoria, the heart of Greek American culture, to remember our heritage and celebrate the spirit of freedom and the desire for independence that has for so long linked America with the country of our ancestors,” Gianaris said.
Greek Independence Day is a national holiday in Greece, commemorating the start of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The holiday coincides with the Annunciation to the Theotokos, celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Church, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would bear the Son of God.
“Celebrating Greek Independence allows us to take a moment to reflect upon the noble democratic ideals that bind our two great nations. As we mourn the passing of Demetrios Demetrios, it is important to recognize him and other New Yorkers of Hellenic descent for their enduring contributions to the educational, social, moral, and economic principles that are so deeply ingrained in the fabric of our communities,” said Simotas. “In addition, we have been so honored to host this event with Helen Marshall for many years, and it is bittersweet to celebrate her final Greek Independence Day as borough president.”
In addition to celebrating Greek Independence Day, several Greek Americans were honored for their outstanding contributions to the community. The honorees were District Office Manager for Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, Connie Stamatiades, Federation of Hellenic Societies President Elias Tsekeridis and Greek activist and local business owner George Kalergios. Demetrios K. Demetrios, affectionately known as “JJ”, was honored in memoriam after he passed away earlier this month. Marshall was given special recognition as a friend of the Greek American community.
Marshall said, “This annual celebration of Greek heritage and culture reminds us of the great contributions to governance, philosophy, the arts and education made by ancient Greece to civilization and the generations of Greek Americans who have embodied this heritage in modern times to contribute to the betterment of communities here, across our city and our nation. I thank Senator Gianaris and Assemblywoman Simotas for their support and cooperation in helping to make tonight’s celebration of Greek independence here in Astoria possible.”