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In a few days it will be March 25th. This day marks a very important day in the life of a Greek as it is Greek Independence Day. If you live in a city with a large Greek population there may be a parade to commemorate the day. Boston, Toronto, New York, all have parades where thousands line the streets and shout ZHTO H ELLADA! ZHTO H 25H MARTIOU! I remember growing up as a little girl dressed up in my Basilisa Amala outfit and being presented with a poem that I needed to memorize either on my own or with a partner to present at our Greek School program. I remember the nervousness about the room. From the kids–would we remember our lines when the time came. From the parents–would their child represent them well in front of the entire community. Somehow that two passed and I guess sparked my love for public speaking. When you’re getting up in front of a couple of hundred people at the age of six and seven, really what is a couple of thousand people when you’re in your twenties and thirties. I remember being a member of the Hellenic Society and marching in the parade when it started in Boston. I still have a favourite photo of mine with me, ready to march, and my dad, a former evzone, ready to march.
I know many of you will have your Greek Flag as a temporary cover photo on Facebook this week. You’ll make sure you have your blue and white clothes on this Saturday as you represent. But what can you be doing year round to commemorate this day? Can you be teaching your children about it, more than just once a year? Can you represent by giving back to those in our community who need help, either by giving of your time or services? I know that there are many programs in Toronto for elder Greeks and even a Greek nursing home. Is there an opportunity to volunteer and make a plan to visit once a month and read to the seniors? I know in Boston (Canton actually) there is a Greek nursing home as well or what about Philoxenia House? Can you volunteer to go cook a meal for the individuals who are staying there? My point being that being Greek or rather celebrating your Greek heritage shouldn’t be a March 25th event only. It should be an everyday event. How can you use your talents and relay to the world how amazing we truly are?
At a time when the world is seeing Greece as problem country with all of the debt it has, and the refugees that have fled to this country, let us show them how amazing and wonderful the people are. Let us show them that we haven’t lost our sense of philotimo and philoxenia. Let us show them that the pride that we carry in our hearts doesn’t turn off the other 364 days a year.
The Greek National Anthem
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν κόψι
Τοῦ σπαθιοῦ τὴν τρομερή,
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν ὄψι,
Ποῦ μὲ βιά μετράει τὴν γῆ.
Ἀπ’ τὰ κόκκαλα βγαλμένη
Τῶν Ἑλλήνων τὰ ἱερά,
Καὶ σὰν πρῶτα ἀνδρειωμένη,
Χαῖρε, ὢ χαῖρε, Ἐλευθεριά!
For my non Greek speaking friends you can find a translation of the Anthem here.