Freedom Explored at the 97th Anniversary of the Liberation of Chios

By Catherine Tsounis

“Freedom must be kept alive in our daily life. One cannot be free when one knows his family’s freedom is restricted,” said captain Stelios Tatsis. The concepts of freedom were explained in a brilliant, dynamic manner at the Chian Federation and Pan Chiaki Society “Korais” celebration of “Freedom 2009’ commemorating the 97th Anniversary of the Liberation of Chios from Ottoman Turkish rule. The event took place on Sunday, November 20th, at St. Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Wantaugh, New York. Over three hundred and fifty persons attended. A Luncheon was hosted in the church hall with a program that included poetry and dances. Rev. Fr. Sarantis P. Loulakis is presbyter. Georgios Lilikas is president of the Parish Council.

A filled church attended the memorial service
‘The liberation of our beloved Chios took place on November 11, 1912,” said Captain Tatsis. “inside of every man burns the flame to be independent and have his own thoughts. This flame is Freedom. Every person must keep this flame alive, within one’s soul, because this is the only way one understands freedom. Freedom must not only be fought for when one’s country is occupied by a foreign power. One is not free when held in bondage to drugs, substance abuse, gambling, excessive shopping that destroys one’s physical and spiritual life or lose one’s economic freedom in excessive spending. One cannot be free knowing one’s family suffers on one’s account, hindering the future of one’s family and pleasantness of life. Freedom is the ability to live without fear. Kazantzakis believed: ‘I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.’ The Nobel Prize winner believed Death should not be feared, but considered as part of the human destiny. He also believed the daughter of virtue is freedom.”

Captain Tatsis explained that “November 11, 1912 was a turning point in the history of Chios. A dark period of 346 years was ended. Chios became enslaved to the Turks in 1566. The naval commander Piali Pashas conquered the island from the Genoese. We lost our ethnic consciousness and adjusted to subjugation to a foreign power. Chios did not have open military resistance in 1821. But we did not remain insensitive. In 1822 was the slaughter known as the Massacre of Chios. We reach 1912, an era of the Balkan Wars and expansion of Greece. On the Feast day of St. Demetrius, October 26th, 1912, the Greek armed forces entered Thessaloniki as heroes. On November 11th, the Greek naval forces reached Chios. After unsuccessful negotiations with the Turkish commander Zichny Bey, military operations began from the ship Sapho under Commander Nicholas Delagrammatika.” Captain Tatsis described in detail the battles.

Rev. Fr. Sarantis speaking (4th from left) as Kostas Kojes (left to
right), Giorgios Lilikas, Chian Federation representative and
Captain Stelios Tatsis listen

“In those years we faced a recognizable enemy,” he explained. “Today, our country (Chios and Greece) and children face many enemies that are unrecognizable; our nation is wounded and exhausted economically, far way from god. The dark forces of globalism are threatening our cultural identity and dissolution of the Orthodox Church. What is taking place today in Italy with the decision of the European Union to remove all crosses and icons from schools and public places, tomorrow will knock at our door. We as mi9ld persons will bow our heads and accept this. Our future generations will not know where we come from and where we are going. They (Globalization) want our youth to be numbers without free thought, without religion, without faith, without hope and to act as robots. Their God is money and nothing else.”

With emotions, Captain Tatsis asked “would any of you believe that the treasured oil painting of the Massacre of Chios by Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix would be found thrown on the ground of the Francomahala?(Central Square).” Delacroix's painting of the massacre at Chios shows sick, dying Greek civilians about to be slaughtered by the Turks. One of several paintings he made of this contemporary event, it expresses sympathy for the Greek cause in their war of independence against the Turks, a popular sentiment at the time for the French people. The painting was in the Byzantine Museum of Chios, founded in a former Ottoman Mosque on the Central Square in 1980.

The Dance Group of PanChiaki Korais Society

The speaker explained, “This happened. Today Saint Sophia is used as mosque. In turkey, street signs glorify the massacre of the victims of Agio Minas and Nea Moni. How long will Greeks retreat and will the Greek government erase from their history the sacrifice of 58,000 Chiotes? Our memorial today, fellow islanders and friends is dedicated to the memory of those who sacrificed so that future generations will live free. Our venerable fathers brought into the world the two sister virtues of Beauty and Freedom. Long live the 11th of November 1912! Long live our Chios! Long live Greece who god blesses with our beloved second country America.”

Poems were recited by the following students: Anthoula Kyriannis; Marika Reivolts; Demetra Tzanis; Iliana Tzanis and Demetrios Kyriannis. A magnificent dance program under the supervision of Evangelia Klidas and Kaiti Markidis entertained all present. The committee that organized “Freedom 2009” included: Costas Kojes; Mary Kojes; Magdalini Gerazounis; Marika Karatza; John Klidas; Christoforo Skoufaras; George Aolmiroudis; Dr. Nikos Zymaris; Evangelia Kavvadas; Kostas Potamousis and Mike Flezoulis.

The officers of the Chian Federation are the following persons: George Almiroudis, President; Stavros Haviaras, Program Vice-President; Alexander Doulis, 1st Vice-President; Evangelos Kavvadas, 2nd Vice-

Georgios Lilikas congratulates keynote
speaker Captain Stelios Tatsis

President; Mike Flezoulis, 3rd Vice-President; Hercules Karvoupakis, Program Vice-President; Dr. Nicholas Zymaris, Secretary; John Stoupakis, Accountant; George Arvanitsis, Treasurer and Kostas Potamousis, Assistant Treasurer.

The 2009 Panchiaki Korais Society Board of Directors include: Costas Kojes, President; George Vassilakis, 1st Vice-President; Nick Menis, 2nd Vice-President; Captain Tselios Tatsis, Secretary; Mary Kojes, Treasurer and Chris Stratakis, Esq. Legal Counsel.

St. Markella Greek Orthodox Church encourages youth to participate,” said George Lilikas, Parish Council President. “Many of us are from Chios, ancient Ionia. We keep our ethics alive so our children and grandchildren will carry on. We are currently raising money for the homeless and handicapped. Our aim is to have a school that is one of the best in the Greek language. We have twenty-six members in our parish council. Our church was originally Protestant. We are engaged in an effort to create our church in a byzantine style. The Chiotes are all working together to realize this dream. Our Philoptohos Ladies Society under the leadership of Koula Koumano, works tirelessly in hosting socials and organizing philanthropic projects.” For more information, call Rev. Fr. Sarantis Loulakis, Presbyter, at 516 783-5760.

Links: Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix Liberation of Chios

(Posting date 14 December 2009)

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