Ahepans Honor America's Veterans

Members Pay Their Respects At Arlington National Cemetery, WWII Parade

WASHINGTON--Members of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, paid their respects on behalf of the Greek-American community to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and liberty. It was also an opportunity to say "thank you."

On Monday, May 24, a wreath was placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a memorial event that Ahepans have performed since 1924.

This year, retired Army Col. Nicholas P. Vamvakias and Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis placed the wreath at the Tomb with the assistance of the Honor Guard Specialist. Following its placement, an Honor Guard Bugler played Taps.

"It's obviously an emotional experience," said Col. Vamvakias. "Certainly my thoughts were with the fine, upstanding, and brave men and women with whom I've had the pleasure of serving during my military career. I felt truly honored."

The colonel is the chapter president of AHEPA Col. Peter N. Derzis Chapter 438, Arlington, Va. He served two combat tours in Vietnam where he received numerous awards, including the Silver Star, America's third-highest award for Valor. Vamvakias also received three awards of the Bronze Star, one for Valor, and the Purple Heart. He is employed with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

"I'm in awe of the experience," added Mossaidis about the wreath laying. "It is very moving to participate in this event and it's one of the greatest honors anyone can perform."

356 Gravesites Memorialized at Arlington

On Saturday, May 29, members of AHEPA Chapter 31, Washington, DC, gathered to memorialize those identified as Greek-Americans or Greek Orthodox who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. According to members of the chapter, there are roughly 356 gravesites at which AHEPA members present a bouquet of artificial flowers and pause in remembrance of those who perished for our nation. The chapter has performed this ceremony annually since 1949. This year, members from the AHEPA Chapter in Arlington, Virginia assisted.

HHEPA Participated in WWII Veterans Parade

On Memorial Day, AHEPA participated in the "Salute to World War Two Veterans Parade" that occurred around the National Mall. According to parade organizers, the purpose of the parade was to honor and pay tribute to all World War II Veterans for their dedication and service to our country.

"This was our way of saying 'thank you' to our World War Two Veterans on behalf of a grateful Greek-American community," said Mossaidis. "We were especially proud when Greek-Americans along the parade route recognized us and expressed their pride in being of Greek heritage too."

Ahepans marched alongside veterans' organizations such as the American Legion, Rolling Thunder, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars; humanitarian organizations like the American Red Cross, and a plethora of marching bands.

There was representation from all 50 States, the United Kingdom, and France. More than 20,000 people participated.

During World War II, the AHEPA family received recognition and commendation from the United States government when it raised over $162 million in war bonds.

For more information about Arlington National Cemetery, please visit

For information about the WWII Veterans Parade, please visit http://www.worldwar2parade.com/about.asp.

The mission of the AHEPA family is to promote the ideals of Hellenism, education, philanthropy, civic responsibility and family and individual excellence.

The AHEPA family consists of four organizations: AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena.

For more information about the AHEPA family, or how to join, please contact AHEPA Headquarters, 202.232.6300, Ext. 211, or visit www.ahepa.org/joinahepa. For instant information visit www.ahepa.org.
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