WASHINGTON, DC—A proud, time-honored tradition continued this week when members of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leading service association for the nation’s millions of American citizens of Greek heritage, and Philhellenes, paid their respects on behalf of the American Hellenic community to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and liberty at Arlington National Cemetery.
Col. Nicholas P. Vamvakias (USA, Retired), chair of the AHEPA Veterans Committee and past supreme treasurer; ROTC Cadet Donald Moran, Past Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas, and Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis, placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, on behalf of a grateful American Hellenic community, May 24, 2018. An Honor Guard Specialist from 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) assisted them and a U.S. Army Band Bugler played Taps. Since 1924 Ahepans have returned annually to Arlington to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Although he was unable to attend, Supreme President Carl R. Hollister, a retired U.S. Army Major with 21 years of active and reserve service, of which 17 years were spent in Special Operations with tours of duty in Central America and Central Asia, stated: “This week, 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 is especially meaningful for our Order to perform this ceremony during a time in our nation’s history when our brave men and women continue to be in harm’s way."
Close to 600 Gravesites Memorialized
Nearly 100 AHEPA family members from the mid-Atlantic Region gathered to memorialize those identified as Greek Americans or Greek Orthodox who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, May 26, 2018. According to organizers, there were an estimated 568 gravesites at which AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope members presented a wreath and paused in remembrance of those who perished for our nation. This solemn ceremony has been performed annually since 1949.
"I commend the AHEPA family of the metro Washington, DC area for its carefully detailed effort to honor properly the memory of the brave souls of our community who sacrificed for our freedom," Supreme President Carl R. Hollister said.
Among the AHEPA chapters participating were: AHEPA Chapter 31, Washington, DC, which began the annual tradition in 1949; AHEPA Chapter 383, Silver Spring, Md.; Col. Peter N. Derzis Chapter 438, Falls Church, Va., and AHEPA Molon Labe Chapter 542, Sterling, Va.
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Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of 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.
AHEPA's mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
For more information, please visit www.ahepa.org.