Tag Archives: Greek

Celebrating Oxi Day

On this day Hellenes cry out “Oxi!” 

Here is background on the genesis of this historic day in Greece and what it means for Hellenes in Canada and around the world.

First, here’s a little local Canadian history…. in 2016, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson received a delegation from the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter to celebrate “Oxi Day”.  Read more about the honour the Mayor bestowed upon Greek-Canadians in Ottawa and across the country:

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Oxi Day is October 28 on the calendar, a national holiday in Greece and recognized by Greeks around the world as a day to remember Hellenic values and the courageous words and deeds of those who fought for Greece and all of democracy in the early, dark days of WWII.

AHEPA Ottawa Chapter wishes to raise the attention of this day to Ottawa residents, those of Greek heritage and all of our community’s citizens. Oxi Day is a day to reflect on the strength of the human spirit when confronted with an impossible situation; and to appreciate the price that, at times, must be paid to stand up for one’s principles, values, rights and freedom. (More on the Order of AHEPA.)

On the Genesis of Oxi Day

Oxi Day commemorates the anniversary when former military general and Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas said, “No” to an ultimatum made by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini to allow Italian forces to occupy strategic locations in Greece. In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops attacked the Greek border. On the morning of 28 October, the Greek population took to the streets, shouting “oxi” (pronounced O-hee).

The superior Italian army had initial success but the Greeks pushed the Italian army back into Albania.  This was the first land defeat of the Axis forces in WWII, and it provided a ray of hope for democracies worldwide.  Churchill wrote “Greeks do not fight like heroes; heroes fight like Greeks.” Mussolini was embarrassed and had to call Hitler for help. Greek and British forces continued to fight and decimate German troops, until Greece surrendered six months later.

This stand against the Axis Forces was truly remarkable and is recorded as the greatest resistance against Nazi blitzkrieg in WWII. Greek and later British forces withstood 219 days of invading forces. In total 13,696 Greek soldiers died before the Nazis raised the swastika flag over the Parthenon. (In comparison, France fell in 43 days; Poland in 30; Belgium in 18; the Netherlands 4; and Norway in 7.)

Hitler observed: “For the sake of historical truth I must verify that only the Greeks, of all the adversaries who confronted us, fought with bold courage and highest disregard of death.” The extent of casualties in Greece caused Hitler to delay an attack on Russia, thus subjecting his troops to harsh winter conditions and contributing to the defeat of Germany.

See more here: Quotes and Memes Honouring Oxi Day

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Greek way

Some years ago a small rural town in Spain twinned with a similar town in Greece.

The mayor of the Greek town visited the Spanish town. When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Spanish mayor, he wondered aloud how on earth he could afford such a house.

The Spaniard replied, “You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to construct a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end, I could build this place.”

The following year the Spaniard visited the Greek town. He was simply amazed at the Greek mayor’s house: gold taps, marble floors, diamond doorknobs, it was marvelous.

When he asked how he’d raised the money to build this incredible house, the Greek mayor said, “You see that bridge over there?”

The Spaniard replied, “No.”

 

(ed. – Thank you to my friend Dick Inwood who is very good at keeping us all laughing.)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Greek Wisdom

On our Facebook page through this past week, By George has featured sage Greek sayings from some of the world’s greatest classic philosophers and leaders. Below you will find five of our FAVs.

“Like” By George Facebook to see the full selection of Greek Wisdom (to be featured through next week as well).

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Wisdom of Epictetus

  • EpictetusFirst say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. 
  • Try not to react merely in the moment.  Pull back from the situation.  Take a wider view.  Compose yourself.
  • It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
  • Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.
  • When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.
  • Ask yourself:  Does this appearance (of events) concern the things that are within my own control or those that are not?  If it concerns anything outside your control, train yourself not to worry about it.
  • Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them do.  Accept events as they actually happen.  That way, peace is possible.
  • Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
  • No matter where you find yourself, comport yourself as if you were a distinguished person.
  • Ask yourself, “How are my thoughts, words and deeds affecting my friends, my spouse, my neighbour, my child, my employer, my subordinates, my fellow citizens?”
  • Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public. 
  • What is a good person?  One who achieves tranquility by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion, “what is the right thing to do now?”
  • We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. 
  • He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

 

The stoic philosopher Epictetus was a Greek-born slave of Rome in the first century. 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

On politics – wisdom of the ancient Greeks

  • platoThey should rule who are able to rule best. – Aristotle
  • This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are. – Plato
  • A state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange…. Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship. – Aristotle
  • The basis of a democratic state is liberty. – Aristotle
  • Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike. – Plato
  • If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost. – Aristotle
  • That judges of important causes should hold office for life is a disputable thing, for the mind grows old as well as the body. – Aristotle
  • Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. – Aristotle
  • There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands. – Plato
  • One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. – Plato

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Kourambiedes-Greek Christmas Cookies

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Here is a wonderful recipe of a cookie that is a favourite in every Greek household at this time of the year (well, at any time of the year!).

Mixing the ingredients

Beat on medium speed until lightened in color and creamy:
3/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat until very fluffy and well blended:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Gradually add and stir until well blended and smooth:
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup Ground Almonds* see note below (optional)

Instructions

1. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm enough to shape into balls, about 1 hour.

2. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease cookie sheets.

3. Pull off pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into generous 1-inch balls. Space about 1 inch apart on the sheets.

4. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are faintly tinged with brown, 14-18 minutes; routate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly. Gently transfer to racks to cool completely.

5. Sift over the cookies until evenly coated: 1/3 cup powdered sugar

6. If desired, 1 cup ground almonds may be added to this recipe. If you do add the ground almonds, stir in after you have added the vanilla or almond extract, then continue with recipe.

This recipe makes about 4 dozen (1 1/4 inch) cookies.

 

Ottawa Mayor proclaims Oxi Day

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His Worship Mayor Jim Watson officially proclaimed October 28th as “Oxi Day” for the residents of Ottawa. The proclamation states:

Whereas, each year on this date, people of Hellenic heritage around the world celebrate the anniversary of the infamous WWII response “Oxi” by a besieged Greek Nation to the aggression of the Axis powers; and

Whereas, this triumph of human spirit over tyranny, demonstrated by Greeks in their hour of darkness, has endured as a shining example for all free people and nations in our world to stand and defend the ideals of freedom, justice and liberty; and 

Whereas, in the Ottawa Region, the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter promotes the recognition of and appreciation for the values of Hellenism, as so profoundly captured in the Greek response of “Oxi”;  

Therefore, I, Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa, do hereby proclaim October 28, 2016 Oxi Day in Ottawa.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

Oxi Day in the Nation’s Capital

Today Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson recognized Oxi Day with a delegation from the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter. Below is the release issued by AHEPA Ottawa. (To mark this special day with the Mayor at City Hall.  By George is posting background articles on the significance of Oxi Day for Hellenes in Canada and around the world.  Click: 1. A short history of Oxi Day. 2. Quotes and Memes by world leaders.)

 

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Mayor Jim Watson officially proclaims Oxi Day for City of Ottawa

AHEPA Ottawa Chapter thanks Mayor for recognizing ideals of Hellenism

October 28, 2016 — Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson met with a delegation from AHEPA Ottawa this morning to recognize “Oxi Day” honouring the courageous deeds of those who fought for all of democracy in Greece in the early, dark days of WWII.

This day commemorates the anniversary when Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas said, “No” to an ultimatum made by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. In response to this refusal, Italian troops attacked the Greek border. On the morning of October 28th, the Greek population took to the streets, shouting “oxi” in defiance.

His Worship Mayor Watson officially proclaimed October 28th as “Oxi Day” for the residents of Ottawa. The proclamation states:

Whereas, each year on this date, people of Hellenic heritage around the world celebrate the anniversary of the infamous WWII response “Oxi” by a besieged Greek Nation to the aggression of the Axis powers; and

Whereas, this triumph of human spirit over tyranny, demonstrated by Greeks in their hour of darkness, has endured as a shining example for all free people and nations in our world to stand and defend the ideals of freedom, justice and liberty; and 

Whereas, in the Ottawa Region, the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter promotes the recognition of and appreciation for the values of Hellenism, as so profoundly captured in the Greek response of “Oxi”;  

Therefore, I, Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa, do hereby proclaim October 28, 2016 Oxi Day in Ottawa.

The AHEPA Ottawa delegation was pleased the Mayor marked this anniversary recognizing Hellenic values and the significance of man’s struggles for liberty, justice and freedom. AHEPA Ottawa Chapter President Nikos Hatzitheodosiou said, “This day is a shining example in our modern history of a defiant stand against the evils of tyranny and aggression. The bravery displayed in Greece in 1940 gave all democratic people hope and resolve to fight for their values and ideals.”

“Much has been sacrificed in our collective history so that we can enjoy our freedoms in the western world. We can’t forget this, nor take it for granted,” said Mr. Hatzitheodosiou.

The AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of citizens of Greek heritage with over 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

The AHEPA Ottawa Chapter is active in its philanthropic and educational activities and has a history of donating to local causes, most recently to Ottawa Heart Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). It also raises money for children’s organizations in Greece and last year organized the donation of hospital beds from CHEO to a Greek hospital in need. Each year the Chapter provides scholarships for post-secondary pursuits to students of Greek heritage as well as financial support to scholastic and cultural activities within Ottawa’s Greek community.

~ Chris George, AHEPA Ottawa Chapter Secretary

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Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

 

 

Quotes & Memes Honouring Oxi Day

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Here are observations by some of the world leaders of the 1940s as the Greek army withstood the Italian and German forces as well as the armies of neighbouring Bulgaria and Albania. (By George encourages you to right-click on the memes, save and share via social media on October 28th.)

“The word heroism, I’m afraid, does not reflect in the least the Hellenes’ acts of self-sacrifice that were the defining factor of the victorious ending of all the nations’ common struggle during the 2nd WW for human freedom and dignity.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“If it were not for the bravery of the Hellenes and their courageous hearts, the ending of the 2nd WW would not have been clear.” – Sir Winston Churchill

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“Until now we were saying that Hellenes fight like heroes. Now we will say: Heroes fight like Hellenes.” – Sir Winston Churchill

‘The Hellenes” in fighting against the common enemy will share with us in the prosperity of peace.” – Sir Winston Churchill

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“As a matter of historical truth, I must ascertain that only the Hellenes, of all the adversaries that confronted me, fought with daring courage and the highest disregard to death… ” – Adolph Hitler

“I fail to give the most needed gratitude that I feel for the heroic resistance of the people and the leaders of Hellas.” – Charles DeGaulle

“Hellas is the symbol of martyric, enslaved, bleeding, but live Europe.  Never has a defeat been so honorable for those who underwent it.” – Maurice Schumann (French Minister of Foreign Affairs)

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“I’m sad because I’m getting old and I will not live much longer to express my gratitude to the Hellenic people whose resistance deter­mined WW II.  You fought unarmed and won, small against big… You gave us time to defend ourselves. As Russians and as fellow humans, we thank you.” – Soviet Leader Josef Stalin

“If the Russian people man­aged to raise resistance before the gates of Moscow, to contain and reverse the German hurricane, they owe it to the Hellenic people who delayed the German divisions that could have beaten us. The gigantic battle of Crete was the peak of the Hellenic contribution.” – Georgy Joucov (Marshall of the Soviet Army)

“… the war in Greece proved that anything can be shattered, with respect to the military, and that sur­prises always await us.” – Italian Prime Minister Benito Mousolini

“The great struggle of Hellas was the first big detour for the 2nd WW.” – King George VI

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Hellas overturned all the German plans forcing Germany to delay for 6 weeks its attack on Russia. We ask ourselves what would have been the position of the Soviet Union without Hellas.” – Sir Harold Alexander (British Marshall)

“Regardless what historians will say in the future, what we can say now is that Hellas gave a memorable lesson to Mussolini, that she was the reason of the resistance in Yugoslavia, that she kept the Germans on the soil of Ipiros and Crete for 6 weeks, that she changed the chronological order of all of the German Major Generals’ plans and, thus, brought about a general alteration in the entire war’s journey and we won.” – Sir Robert Anthony Eden

“For Hellas there was granted a delay of 3 hours on the 28th of October 1940 so that she can decide on war or peace, but, even if a delay of 3 days or 3 weeks or 3 years was granted, the answer would have been the same.” – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt

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“The Hellenes have taught dignity throughout the centuries (history). When the entire world had lost all hope, the Hellenic people dared to doubt the German monster’s invincibility fighting back with the proud spirit of freedom.” – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt

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“The heroic struggle of the Greek people to defend their liberties and their homes against the aggression of Germany after they had so signally defeated the Italian attempt at invasion has stirred the hearts and aroused the sympathy of the whole American people.” – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to the AHEPA Supreme Lodge in 1941

 

(ed. – Click here to read more On the Order of AHEPA.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Lesbos: providing renewed faith in humanity

Lesbos,_GreeceIf you have been preoccupied with the thrills of the Olympic Games, or with the U.S. presidential race to the bottom, you may have missed the recent dramatic happenings on a small Aegean island, Lesbos. The daily drama and the endless stories of compassion and hope are amazing. On this island, our faith in mankind can be renewed; faith personified in simple acts of kindness and understanding that span race and religion.

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With the post-failed-coup crisis unfolding in Turkey, there has been a new wave of refugees wash ashore the beaches of Lesbos. Or, more accurately, hundreds of new souls have been plucked from overcrowded rafts into the arms of Greek fisherman and coast guards to be taken in by the people of this generous Greek island.

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Through the past year-and-a-half hundreds of thousands of refugees have sought escape and arrived on the island of Lesbos. Today, to mark their Herculean efforts, there is a eerie monument that continues to grow… A Cemetery of Life Vests But Not Lives.

     Unlike islands elsewhere, Lesbos discards thousands of life vests every day. They litter its eastern and northern shores, coloring the beaches or floating aimlessly on the azure waters. For months now, they have been routinely collected by municipal workers and volunteers and unceremoniously discarded in a municipal dumpsite near the town of Molyvos. Each life vest was worn by one of the more than 450,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in 2015 alone who made the sea crossing from Turkey to this Greek island. Each tells a different story, but almost inevitably, it is a story of fear.

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The people of Lesbos tell another remarkable story that demands to be understood by all who wish to help the Syrian displaced and desperate. This reflection of a Greek fisherman is a stark and simple message.

     “I remember I was a young boy, and I saw Iraqi men arriving on small rubber boats with paddles,” Pinteris says while pulling his fish-laden nets out of the water. “We wondered, ‘Why are these men here?'”

     Like most of the people in this small and conservative village, Pinteris initially viewed the arrivals as an invasion. But now, in light of recent events, even some of the most hardened Greeks on the islands have changed their minds.

     “After having experienced what we have this year, with women and children in the water screaming for help, many people’s world views have changed,” Pinteris says.

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From the fishermen who lift them from the rafts, to the YiaYias who feed and care for their disoriented guests, the people of Lesbos are the finest example of human compassion; they are the essence of humanitarian spirit. So much good has come from their acts of kindness… and today Lesbos islanders persevere under the strain of economic and political realities.

Learning to Love the Sea – After surviving traumatic journeys, children of refugee crisis are getting swimming lessons

Life on Lesbos: residents tell us what its really like.

UN News: “If tiny Lesbos can do so much, surely others can do more.”

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There is little wonder that the Lesbos people have been nominated to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their acts of kindness. Take a moment and watch these moving YouTube videos.

The Greek Grandmother and Fisherman

Greek submission for Nobel Peace Prize

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On a small Greek island where they have so very little to give, the Lesbos islanders give their all. Their acts have truly provided renewed faith in humanity.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

 

10 Facts: Pontian Greek Genocide

The Genocide of Greeks living in the lands south of the Black Sea took place between 1914 and 1923. Here are ten facts you need to know about this atrocity.

 

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SUMMARY: The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland. It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches (photo below), summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural and religious monuments. By the end of the Greco-Turkish War most of the Greeks of Asia Minor had either fled or had been killed. Those remaining were transferred to Greece under the terms of a population exchange agreement, which formalized the exodus and barred the return of the refugees.

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Pontian and Anatolian Greeks were victims of a broader Turkish genocidal project aimed at all Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire. A total of more than 3.5 million Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians were killed from roughly 1914 to 1923. Of this, as many as 1.5 million Greeks may have died either from massacre or exposure. About one million had migrated, some voluntarily but most under coercion. Presently, a miniscule Greek population remains in Turkey.

 

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Ancient Historical Context: Pontus is what the Greeks have called the Black sea from times immemorial. The first Greek settlements appeared on its southern coast (modern Turkey and the Caucasus) as early as 800 BC. They were founded by Ionian Greeks, natives of Attica, Anatolia, and the islands of the Aegean. The first city, Sinop, was built in 785 BC. Very soon not only the southern, but also the northern Black sea coast was completely Hellenized. Many renowned Greek men of antiquity, such as Diogenes and Strabo, were born and raised in southern Pontus. In the 4th century BC, an independent Kingdom of Pontus was established on the southern coast of the Black Sea and since that time Pontus began to develop independently from other Greek lands.

 

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Modern Historical Context: The Greeks successfully overthrew centuries of Ottoman rule during the War of Independence from 1821 to 1830, establishing the Modern Greek state as it is currently situated at the tip of the Balkan Peninsula. A “Young Turk” movement emerged aiming to turn the Ottoman Empire (which included Pontus) into a homogenous Turkish nation state. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman government seriously feared losing its power over Pontus, as it had already with Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria. “Drastic measures” of extermination of the Greek element were planned by the “Young Turks” whose slogan was “Turkey for the Turks”. In September 1911, the participants of the Young Turks conference in Thessalonica openly discussed the issue of extermination of the ethnic Christian minorities in Turkey, especially Greeks and Armenians.

 

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Beginning in the spring of 1913, the Ottomans implemented a program of expulsions and forcible migrations, focusing in Greeks of the Aegean region and eastern Thrace, whose presence in these areas was deemed a threat to national security. Turkish military units attacked Greek villages forcing their inhabitants to abandon their homes for Greece, being replaced with Muslim refugees. Entering into talks for population exchanges, the Ottoman government adopted a “dual-track mechanism” allowing it to deny responsibility for and prior knowledge of this campaign of intimidation, emptying Christian villages.

 

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In the summer of 1914 the Turkish military, assisted by government and army officials, conscripted Greek men of military age from Thrace and western Anatolia into Labour Battalions in which hundreds of thousands died.  Sent hundreds of miles into the interior of Anatolia, conscripts were employed in road-making, building, tunnel excavating and other field work, Their numbers were heavily reduced through either privations and ill-treatment or by outright massacre by their Ottoman guards. This policy of persecution and ethnic cleansing was expanded to other regions of the Ottoman including Pontus.

 

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Pontian Greeks – women, children, and elderly people – were evicted from their houses in 24 hours, not being allowed to take with them almost anything of their property, and in long columns, under armed convoy, were marched far inland. The deserted villages were plundered and burnt – often before the very eyes of the evicted. On the deportation march, people were treated with utmost cruelty: they did not receive almost any food, were forced to march forward for hours and days on end without rest over the wilderness, under the rain and the snow, so that many of them, unable to endure the hardships, dropped dead from exhaustion and illnesses. The convoy men raped women and young girls, shot people for a slightest reason, and sometimes without a reason at all. Most of the deported died on the way; but even those who survived the deportation march, found themselves in a no better situation – the places of destination turned out to be real “white death” camps. In one of such places, the village of Pirk, the deported inhabitants of the city of Tripoli were kept. According to the reports of the survivals, out of 13,000 Pontians who had been sent to Pirk, only 800 survived.

 

 

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In his memoirs, the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1913 and 1916 wrote “Everywhere the Greeks were gathered in groups and, under the so-called protection of Turkish gendarmes, they were transported, the larger part on foot, into the interior. Just how many were scattered in this fashion is not definitely known, the estimates varying anywhere from 200,000 up to 1,000,000.” German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats have provided evidence for series of systematic massacres and ethnic cleansing of the Greeks. The accounts describe systematic massacres, rapes and burnings of Greek villages, and attribute intent to senior Ottoman officials, including the Ottoman Prime Minister.

 

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At present, the Pontian Genocide is officially recognized only by Greece, Cyprus, Armenia, Sweden, and the American State of New York. This is due to insufficient awareness and, sadly, insufficient interest of the international community. Led by the Greece, the 19th May has been established as Commemoration day of the Pontian Genocide.  Interestingly, in response the Turkish government officials claims that describing the events as genocide is “without any historical basis”.  A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement states: “Greece) in fact has to apologize to the Turkish people for the large-scale destruction and massacres Greece perpetrated in Anatolia, not only sustains the traditional Greek policy of distorting history, but it also displays that the expansionist Greek mentality is still alive.”

 

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Toronto City Council recently passes a Pontian Genocide Motion: That City Council recognize the Pontian Genocide, to honour the memory of the men, women and children who died.  Councillor Jim Karygiannis, who moved the motion said, “It is important to remember these moments in our shared history. We must remember those who suffered and perished. We must teach our children the violence face by their ancestors and others. It is only by remembering and teaching the young that we can ensure that these atrocities never happen again.” (Note that the City of Toronto is the first City to pass such a motion and the Government of Canada has yet to recognize the Pontian Greek Genocide.

 

This May 19th may we commemorate the Pontian Greek Genocide.

 

SOURCES:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_genocide

http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/center-study-genocide-conflict-resolution-and-human-rights/genocide-ottoman-greeks-1914-1923

http://www.pravmir.com/article_978.html

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

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10 Facts: Greek Independence Day

 

1. Greek Independence Day is a national holiday celebrated annually in Greece on March 25, commemorating the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821.  The “Greek Revolution” was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1830.

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2. In celebration of Greek Independence Day, towns and villages throughout Greece hold a school flag parade, during which schoolchildren march in traditional Greek costume and carry Greek flags. There is also an armed forces parade in Athens. Around the world, Greek emigrants and those of Greek descent also parade and conduct flag ceremonies in celebration of the 9-year victorious struggle to free their country.

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3. Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 with the Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks. Greeks remained under the Ottoman rule for nearly 400 years. Through these years, Orthodox Christians were granted some political rights, but they were considered inferior subjects. The majority of Greeks were called “Rayah” by the Turks, a name that referred to the large mass of non-Muslim subjects. However, through the centuries, Greek religion and their sense of Hellenism remained strong, as did the desire for some form of independence fostered, in large part, by the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the survival of the Greek language.

 

4. The Greek revolt was precipitated on March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese. Thus began the 9-year revolution for freedom.

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5. Here is a summary of the war. The Greeks experienced early successes on the battlefield, including the capture of Athens in 1822, but infighting ensued. By 1827 Athens and most of the Greek isles had been recaptured by the Turks. Just as the revolution appeared to be on the verge of failure, Great Britain, France, and Russia intervened in the conflict. At the naval Battle of Navarino in 1827, the combined British, French, and Russian forces destroyed an Ottoman-Egyptian fleet. A Greco-Turkish settlement was determined by the European powers at a conference in London and Greece was declared an independent monarchical state under their protection in 1830.

 

6. The struggle for the liberation of all the lands inhabited by Greeks continued. By mid-1832 the northern frontier of the new state had been set along the line extending from south of Volos to south of Árta. In 1864, the Ionian islands were added to Greece; in 1881 parts of Epirus and Thessaly. Crete, the islands of the Eastern Aegean and Macedonia were added in 1913 and Western Thrace in 1919. After World War II the Dodecanese islands were also returned to Greece.

 

7. The Greek struggle had elicited strong sympathy in Europe, and many leading intellectuals had promoted the Greek cause, including and most notably the English poet Lord Byron. His prestige and his role as a representative of the philhellenic London Committee (which raised both moral and financial support) came in a critical time for the course of the Greek cause. Lord George Byron also fought in the rebellious areas of Greece from December 1823 until 7 April 1824, when he died at Missolonghi.  Dionysios Solomos wrote a poem Ode on the Death of Lord Byron (first verse) which honours the poet and the liberal revolutionary:

For a moment, Liberty,
Let the war, the bloodshed sleep;
Hither come and silently
Over Byron’s body weep.

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8. The popular cry “Freedom or Death” became the motto of the revolution and was constantly heard throughout the liberation. This war-cry is also a significant part of the Greek flag: it is believed that the nine lines of the flag reflects the number of syllables in the Greek phrase “Eleftheria i Thanatos” = Freedom or Death. Not only the flag, but the the Greek National Anthem “Hymn to Liberty” was born of the revolution. Dionysios Solomos wrote the lyrics in 1824, Nikolaos Mantzaros put it to music in 1828. (This English translation of the revolutionary ballad is by Rudyard Kipling in 1918.)

We knew thee of old,
Oh, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword,
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

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9. Greeks celebrate the 25th of March as a double holiday: a historical and a religious one. Independence Day coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God.

 

10. A custom across the country on this day is to eat crispy, fried cod fish with garlic sauce (Bakaliaros skordalia). This has to do with the Lent before Eastern, where no animals or animal products should be eaten. However the Orthodox Church allowed an exception for the celebration of the Annunciation and that it the Cod fish! Here is the recipe for Bakaliaros skordalia.

 

Sources (and further reading):

Encyclopaedia Britannica on Greek Independence Day and War of Greek Independence

Wikipedia

Keep Talking Greece

Crete History

Lord Byron

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

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Greek humour (applause for Ang!)

This past week By George had some fun in social media advancing Greek Comedy Night that headlined Angelo Tsarouchas “The Funny Greek.”

Not familiar with Big Ang? He is hilarious: http://www.tsarouchas.com

Here is Ang with one of his classic routines: It is all Greek

By George promoted the evening of comedy with a series of comic Greek memes on Twitter – @ByGeorgeJournal. Here are some of our favourite. Enjoy – or should we say, Opa!

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BTW – Greek Comedy Night was a huge success – and largely due to the hour-and-a-half marathon performance of Ang!

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 facts about the Halifax Donair – a Greek Wrapsody

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It cannot be overstated: there is nothing as delectable as a donair – specifically, a Halifax donair.

In some quarters it has become legendary; in others’ it is simply “too much.” Finally, this delicious gastronomical mainstay of the Nova Scotia Capital is getting its due recognition and respect. The birthplace of the donair, Halifax, has declared it “the official food of the City.” In honour of this recent announcement, here are 10 facts about the Nova Scotian donair:

 

FACT 1:  Donair meat is made from a combination of ground beef and bread crumbs, and is spiced in various ways, depending on the restaurant. A sweet garlic sauce is typically made from evaporated milk, vinegar, garlic, and sugar. Similar to a gyro, donairs are served in pita flat bread and topped with slices of tomato and onion. RECIPE: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/71963/dashs-donair/ , http://www.food.com/recipe/dash-riprocks-real-halifax-donair-90387

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FACT 2:  Here is the best way to eat a donair (and let’s preface these instructional remarks by first stating that the best donairs are served with “extra sauce” so they are runnier and messier). Peal back the tin foil wrapping to expose only one-eighth to one-quarter of the donair. Bite through the pita bread into meat – each mouthful should have a mixture of both. Try and hold the donair as horizontal as possible without losing any contents – and as you eat, turn the donair ever-so-slowly. This maneuver ensures the sauce does not settle to the bottom. As you chomp away, peal back the foil to only reveal half inch of the donair at a time. Every so often, tilt your hand forward and allow for the juice to be re-applied throughout your wrap. Be sure, at all times, to lean forward so as not to have any juices drip onto your clothes. If the donair is dripping, eat faster. It is not good to put it down while eating as you will lose juice and perhaps some of the contents. It is absolutely fine to have sauce dribble on your chin, between your fingers or down your arm (there is plenty of time to lick and hose down after you have finished your meal).

 

FACT 3: Just recently Halifax named the donair its official food. After a 43-page staff report, a sponsoring councillor’s report, and a heated debate at two City Hall council meetings, the Mayor broke a tie vote making it official – the donair will be forever known as Halifax’s Official Food. (News stories here and here.) Interesting side-note is that it is now added to Nova Scotia’s list of official things:

  • Official tree: red spruce
  • Official fossil: a 312-million-year-old reptile known as Hylonomus lyelli
  • Official horse: the Sable Island horse
  • Official dog: the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

 

FACT 4:  Donair meat is not only served in a pita wrap, but can also adorn other delicious dishes. For example, throughout Nova Scotia you can now enjoy donair pizza – with a special dipping sauce for its crust. There’s donair eggrolls to munch on as a party appetizer. Or, the latest addition the menu of a Dartmouth eatery is donair soup. And, believe it or not, the creator of donair soup is actually known as a “Soup Whisperer”.

 

FACT 5:  Right, here is a shortlist of notable donairs to be discovered in Nova Scotia!! First stop should be a pilgrimage to KOD on Quinpool Road. For the most delicious donair outside of Halifax, travel to Truro and order a large donair from Sam’s. If you have a real large hankering, you must visit Stewiacke and order what is known as the largest donair in Canada at Frank’s. You may like to try donair soup at Souper Duper Soup in Dartmouth – but check out what their serving up that day on Souper Duper Soup Twitter so you are not disappointed. Finally, no social gathering would be complete without a big plate of heavenly donair eggrolls – buy them by the dozen! – at Papa Mario’s in the Halifax Mall Annex.

 

FACT 6:  Peter Gamoulakos tried to introduce Greek-style gyros to Haligonians in the late 1960s. It was in a small restaurant in Bedford, Nova Scotia – Velos Pizza – that Peter altered the gyro recipe of sliced lamb served with tzatziki sauce. Instead, he produced a meal of sliced, spiced ground beef and crafted a distinctive sweet sauce. So, the birthplace of the donair: Velos Pizza

 

FACT 7:  Peter popularized the donair in the mid-1970’s when he opened his King of Donairs restaurant on the busy Quinpool Road. In the 1980’s, after Peter sold his KOD restaurant, KODs were franchised and popped up throughout Halifax – most notable in the lore of the City’s donair haunts were the two KODs that stood on the City’s infamous Pizza Corner (corner of Blower and Grafton Streets).

 

FACT 8:  The history of the donair would not be complete without mentioned the great family feud with the Gamoulakos brothers. Peter’s brother John claims he was also part of this early history. In fact, today, there is a restaurant Johnny K’s Authentic Donairs (located on Pizza corner) which has a wall plaque that credits “Peter and John Kamoulakos” with creating the donair – spelling the Greek surname with a K as John does. However, John was not part of Peter’s efforts to popularize the donair until the 1980s, when Peter had sold his KOD and opened Mr. Donair, a north-end manufacturing outpost of donair-making products.

 

FACT 9:  Differences between a Nova Scotia donair and a central Canada donair lay primarily with the sauce. Like the gyro, donairs in Quebec and Ontario have a garlic-tzatziki sauce. Some add lettuce and taboli to accompany the meat. In some cases, there may be combinations of pork and lamb mixed with the beef. You will find, donairs bought in the Maritimes to be true to Peter Gamoulakos creation, while those bought further west in Canada will vary greatly in presentation, contents and taste.

 

FACT 10:  If you do not live in Nova Scotia and wish to order-out your donairs, there are restaurants that will ship the spiced beef and sweet sauce fixings to your door. A favourite supplier at our Upper Canada dinner table is Domascus Pizza in Truro. We have also had wonderful meals prepared by Elmsdale Pizzeria; however these donair packages were lovingly transported by family members. An Internet search on this subject reveals that the major chains will all accommodate your shipping needs: Tony’s, KOD and Johnny K’s Authentic Donairs. There’s nothing like ordering in – the official food of Halifax direct from Halifax!!

 

Should you wish to read more, as an aficionado of all-things-donair, I would like to share a few personal comments on this heavenly dish.

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(ed. – The pun “Greek Wrapsody” is to be credited to headline writers at the Toronto Star, where we first saw this clever moniker.)

On the Order of AHEPA

In my father’s footsteps, this past month I have entered the fraternity of AHEPA. For future articles where AHEPA and its good works will be mentioned, here is a brief description of this wonderful organization. Visit AHEPA Canada to learn more – and for Canadians of Greek heritage, I encourage you to join with us. – Chris George

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The AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of citizens of Greek heritage with over 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

The organization was founded in the Atlanta, Georgia in 1922 following growing attacks on Greek Americans and Greek American businesses by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and others. Its initial mission was to promote the image of Greeks in America, as­sist them with citizenship and to fight against KKK at­tacks.

On October 28, 1928, the first Canadian Chapter of AHEPA was founded in Toronto.  (The anti-Greek riots of Toronto in 1918 had paved the way for AHEPA in Canada.) In the 1930’s AHEPA was coast to coast in Canada and serving the members and the public. AHEPA was leaving an incredible impression in each community in which we were engaged:  Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Belleville, Windsor, Kitchener, London, Hamilton, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver, Burnaby, and Victoria.

The AHEPA Ottawa Chapter is active in its philanthropic and educational activities and has a history of donating to local causes, most recently to Ottawa Heart Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). It also raises money for children organizations and hospitals in Greece. Each year the Chapter provides scholarships for post-secondary pursuits to students of Greek heritage as well as financial support to scholastic and cultural activities within Ottawa’s Greek community.

An important component of AHEPA’s mission is to create an awareness of the principles of Hellenism to society. The word “Hellenism” is derived from the Greek word “Ellinismos” which is used to describe the people of Greek lineage and also to describe a set of values for living that were invented by the ancient Greeks. These values became the basis of today’s Western civilization and include a commitment to humanity, liberty, and democracy. AHEPA strives to preserve and promote these ideals and educates the public on these matters through symposia, forums, and conferences in their Chapters’ communities.

For more information visit the website of AHEPA Canada and the website of the International Order of AHEPA, headquartered in the United States in Washington D.C.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

 

 

 

Sage Counsel from Ancient Greece

The Seven Sages of Greece (c. 620 BC–550 BC) is the title given to seven ancient Greek philosophers, statesmen and law-makers who were internationally renowned in the following centuries for their wisdom.  Traditionally, each of the seven sages represents an aspect of worldly wisdom which is summarized by an aphorism.

 

Here are the wise men and their timeless counsel:

  • Ruler Cleobulus of Lindos:  “Moderation is the best thing.”
  • Lawmaker Solon of Athens:  “Keep everything with moderation.”
  • Politician Chilon of Sparta: “You should not desire the impossible.”
  • Legislator Bias of Priene:  “Most men are bad.”
  • Philosopher Thales of Miletus:  “Know Thyself” (engraved on the front façade of the Oracle of Apollo in Delphi.
  • Ruler Pittacus of Mytilene:  “You should know which opportunities to choose.”
  • Ruler Periander of Corinth:  “Be farsighted with everything.”