Greek Organizations Join for Hellenic Project Fundraiser

The Hellenic Journal

Greek-Americans in Ohio are joining a nationwide effort to restore ancient Greece's historic position as the genesis of Western Civilization.

About 100 Greek-Americans residing in the Warren-Youngstown Metropolitan Area have formed the Mahoing Valley Hellenic Project Committee in support of the planned production of a documentary film, Our Greek heritage: The Greek Roots of Western Civilization.

The group, including local representatives of two AHEPA chapters, the Mahoning Valley Pan-Cretan Association chapter, and Pan-Arcadians and Ikarian Brotherhood of America local chapters, attended a banquet here recently to help raise funds for the national project. Those gathering in support included judges, educators, business and legal professionals and Ohio political leaders.

Tony J. Kokolas of Fresno, California, an author and 30-year university history professor, was guest speaker, at the event. Kocolas, documentary project coordinator, said the gathering here of so many Greek-American individuals for a common cause provided a welcomed impetus for the nationwide effort.

Hellenic Project supporters from Northeast Ohio
include from left, Atty. James A. Denney,
Pan-Cretan Association of America national legal
advisor; former Ohio state Sen. Harry Mechilakis
Meshel; Trumbull County Common Pleas, Judge
Peter J. Kontos, AHEPA Lincoln Chapter 89
President George Zografides, Project Coordinator
and banquet guest speaker Tony Kocolas, AHEPA
past Supreme President Cleo Zmbetis, 2005 AHEPA
Zeus Chapter 88 President Mike Kontos, and the
Rev. Father Thomas Constantine

The planned documentary is a nationally adopted AHEPA Project to enlighten and remind U.S. citizens of Western Civilization's debt to ancient Greeks and Hellenism. The film will also be designed to refresh the memories of those teaching in U.S. schools and universities about this heritage.

"In the last 30 years in public school systems and universities, the teaching about the Ancient Greeks has been minimized, and even omitted under the theme 'cultural equality'," Kocolas said.

Working with Kocolas on the project are Professor Victor Davis Hanson and Professor Bruce S. Thornton. Hanson is one of the most recognized historians in the United States, having written at least 16 books, many about Ancient Greece. Thornton is also a respected writer of Ancient Greece topics and the Classics.

Hellenic Project principals say their concern arises from recent attacks through the misuse of the concepts of multiculturalism and diversity, and false theories put forward at several levels including in some academic publications. Many educational institutions are eliminating courses on ancient Greek history and classical civilization, and ignoring or even disparaging the root source of democracy.

The Honorable Peter J. Kontos, a Trumbull County, Ohio Common Pleas Court judge serving as master of ceremonies at the local banquet, used as an ex-ample the notable absence of ancient Greece's contribution to Western Civilization in his child's school textbook.

According to the Hellenic Project, "Emphasizing the importance of Greece in the school systems was a foundation of the educational system in both Western Europe and North America for nearly three centuries. "Until the mid-1970s, any student in the American public school system received a generous introduction to Ancient Greece in the 8th grade and again the 10th grade. In college, students were required to take Western Civilization - and Ancient Greece was definitely emphasized there.

"From the mid 1970s a dangerous trend was established in public education to try to make history sensitive and inclusive, whether it is true or not. One pervasive theme is multiculturalism - the notion that all cultures made equal contributions to Western and specifically, American Society".

In addition to Kocolas, one of the speakers was retired Ohio State Senator Harry Michelakis Meshel. Senator Meshel was one of the most influential Ohio politicians for nearly 20 years, serving as Speaker of the Senate, Minority Leader, and Chairman of the Finance Committee. Senator Meshel said, "...the people of Greek heritage should be apostles of the Greek contributions to the world.. .and to refute completely false and misleading writings and statements questioning the extraordinary contributions of Greece and Greek thinkers..." Meshel concluded about the Hellenic Project that, -"This project is an excellent vehicle to tell the story."

Atty. James A. Denney, serving as chairman of the Mahoning Valley event, learned of the Hellenic Project at a Pan-Cretan Association of America convention. Atty. Denney, National Legal Advisor for the PAA as well as the local chapter president, was instrumental in getting the project endorsed by the AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Association) chapters in Youngstown and Warren, Ohio, and planning the banquet.

"This Greek unity here in Ohio is like the unity that 30 Greek States in Ancient Greece who with an army of 50,000 overwhelmed the Xerxes Persian Army of 250,000 in their fight to protect a democratic civilization that didn't exist elsewhere in the world," Atty. Denney said. "they were fighting for their way of life where citizens were equal under the law."

The Mahoning Valley Hellenic Project Committee represents a diverse group of Greek-American organizations and community leaders in the fields of medicine, law, labor, business, journalism and education, including two Past Supreme Presidents of AHEPA, Franklin Manios and Cleo Zambetis. The group is joined in a common cause: the need to tell the truth about Ancient -Greece as the cradle of Western Civilization.

(Posting date 24 April 2006 )

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