Greeks gather to observe independence

About a dozen people gathered outside the Legislative Building on Friday to raise the Greek flag and celebrate the birthplace of democracy.

"When people say 'It's Greek to me,' they are admitting more than they know," John Copoulos, president of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association's Reno chapter told Friday's gathering.

"Our goal is to encourage the democratic process in accord with Hellinism," which he defined as the various Greek ideals.

"You should question the things around you and figure out why they are the way they are."

Copoulos pointed out that a fifth of the English language is based in Greek and that nearly half of scientific and medical language has Greek roots.

In Nevada, he said, Greeks tended to concentrate in Ely during the mining boom.

"As they raised children and they went to UNR, the Greeks tended to gather in Reno," he said.

Father George Bratiotis, pastor of Reno's St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church gave the invocation.

"Let those who seek their independence follow the example of Greece," he said.

Among those attending Friday's celebration were Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko and Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

Vassili Titus played the clarinet as people sang "Ethnikos Imnos," the Greek national anthem.

March 25, 1821, is celebrated as the day the Greek War for Independence began.

"During their freedom crusade, many prominent leaders of America and England voiced their support for Greek Independence: President James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Henry Clay were just a few who spoke out in support of the Greeks," Copoulos said.

The war dragged until 1829 when the Greeks, with the help of the major European powers, drove out the Ottoman Turks.

The war for Greek Independence ended when the Russians declared war on the Turks and they pulled out of Greece to fight on another front.

Copoulos said that there are parades celebrating the day in other places in the United States.

Copoulos quoted Pericles on the nature of democracy and freedom.

"Happiness depends on being free and freedom depends on being courageous," he said.


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