The Slow Death of Greek Independence Day

Friday, it was the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Most-Holy Theotokos.

It was also Greek Independence Day.

In 1821, Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Christian banner and declared that henceforth, the Greek people would throw off the chains of the Ottoman empire. 

Growing up as a proud Greek-American, March 25  (or the Sunday closest to it) was a big event in our humble parishes.  Young boys dressed in our best klephtika garb, while our sisters donned their chromatic amalies.  

For those who don’t know, Klephtika is the kilted garb of the klephts (brigands) who roamed freely in the mountains of the Peloponnese, as freebooters and thieves, and who later formed the backbone of the Greek rebellion once it became official. 

Amalies are the colorful dresses Greek women wear.  The word comes from Emily [Amalia in Greek].  She was the first Queen of Greece, being the consort of King Otto.

Some of the luckier boys also had fake scimitars strapped around their waists.  Others, a shorter curved knife, which serves as a great way to open an envelope.

On Greek Independence Day, we would proudly make our way to the Church behind a Greek flag and then retire to the parish hall to recite poems extolling the heroism of our ancestors by heart and in Greek, no less.

Sometimes we would put on a production of To Krypho Scholeio (The Secret School).  These were hidden schools for Greek peasants who often met in caves to learn Greek letters and grammar.

The productions were enacted all over the world, wherever Greeks were living.  Even in out-of-the-way towns and burgs throughout the heartland of America (not unlike Tulsa), where there was usually a single Greek Orthodox parish.  They were preceded by an encyclical from the Archbishop wherein we were reminded of the tremendous suffering Greeks experienced at the hands of our Turkish oppressors.  

Nowadays, these productions are only enacted in the larger metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago.  Even so, the various Archbishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America always saw fit to honor Greek Independence Day. 

I wish I could say this was still true.  But this year was more than a little different.  Unlike in years past, there was no mention from the good Archbishop about why our ancestors sought independence or from whom.  

To be sure, Archbishop Elpidophoros did commemorate Independence Day with an encyclical, albeit in a curious fashion.  Instead of extolling the virtues of the Greek revolutionaries and victory against their Ottoman overlords, he omitted the role of the Ottomans entirely.  The words “Turks,” “Turkey” and the “Ottoman Empire”. . . never escaped his lips.

He did see fit, however, to mention how awful the Russians are.  

This is wrong on so many levels.  For one thing: it was Greeks living in Russia, specifically in Odessa, who first lit the spark of Greek independence from Turkey and it was in that city that they created the Filiki Hetairia, “The Friendly Society”, dedicated to the cause of Greek independence.

Secondly, it was the Greeks serving in the czarist government who led the revolt.  Men like Dimitrios Yspilantis, a high-ranking officer in the Russian Army, and Giovanni Antonio Capo d’Istria, Tsar Alexander I’s foreign minister at the Congress of Vienna who later became the first President of the Greek Republic.  

Finally, it was the Russian Navy that provided the crucial naval support needed for the Greeks to win the war.  

Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s greatest poet was also a member of the Filiki Hetairia.  As for Kapodistrias (the Hellenized version of Capo d’Istria) crafted the Swiss Constitution and is revered by the Swiss to this day, almost as a saint.  If it weren’t for him, Switzerland would have been consumed by the major powers that had just defeated Napoleon. 

Archbishop Elpidophoros elided over every single one of these facts and not because he is for the Current ThingTM, but because he and his boss in Istanbul are Turkish citizens.    

Now, don’t that just beat all?  Seriously, would you commemorate American Independence Day extolling the perils of climate change?  (Scratch that, we probably would.)

One wonders how serious Greek-Americans are about their heritage.  We know the current Patriarch and his various exarchs are beholden to their Turkish overlords.  But what about the Greeks?  What is our excuse?  

Until we find the answer, I humbly submit that we will never again be taken seriously as Greek Orthodox Christians.  Nor will we be taken seriously as proud Greek-Americans.

The Fordhamites will continue to train their intellectual recruits on the cause of the Alphabet People, Climate Change, and Racism, while the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese atrophies to the point it is no more.  

And for what?  The accolades of the Globalists?  What will the remaining members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese do when they discover their Turkish overlords turned their back on Globalism and switched their attention to the inevitable Sino-Russian Eurasian axis?

Will the next Ecumenical Patriarch follow their lead and abandon the crisis du jour that is animating the American populace? 

If that were to happen, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese would become nothing more than an Eastern Rite Episcopalian sect.

It’s time for another Independence Day.  This time from the Ecumenical Patriarchate who no longer understands what it is to be Greek.   


If you would like to know more about the fight for Greek Independence, I highly recommend that you take the time to watch the following, 20-minute video.



  1. Excellent, George… excellent!

  2. Μωλον Λαβε says

    Many Greeks came to America and were looked down upon. Culture shock, not speaking American, bewildered. Fortunate if other Greeks had come before them to give them support and shelter.
    Many Greeks decided their clothes smelled too much of garlic, so they put on the American garb and Americanized their names.
    My family first came to Idaho in the late 1800’s, worked on the railroads, the mines, along with the Chinese, Irish, Italians, Poles.
    My grandfather having been told his work was “almost as good as a white man”
    Our Greek forefathers and foremothers who came to America, worked, sweated, bled and died and built a future for their children and grandchildren.
    It pains me that many second and third generation Greeks, do not speak a word of Greek, but during the Greek festivals, it’s everything Greek – but just the body and rarely the soul, unless you are one of the old timers who still dream of returning to the “patrida”. Many didn’t.
    I was blessed to have grown up in Greece. We spoke Greek every day. Greek history was hammered into me and I know what it means to be Greek. I went to Greek elementary school – I still have my diploma !
    In 2018 I returned to Greece with my mother’s ashes and put them in the sea next to my fathers village. I kept our promise since she refused to be buried in the US.
    Another culture shock ! I got lost several times times trying to get to my best friends house. Athens had changed so much – and especially the people. I sadly realized that the Greeks had become more European and less Greek.
    I love Greece. I have a lot of family and loved ones there and I pray I may see them again.
    I love Greece, but I couldn’t live there today. It was nice growing up 1960 – 1974, but I become melancholy at what it has become.
    Yet, with many Greeks, the soul is still there, burning deep and knowing that there is much that cannot be taken away from us. The worse mistake we Greeks made was giving the lights to the rest of the world.
    I am an American. I am a better American because I was born a Greek and I shall die a Greek – if you don’t understand this…….too bad

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I loved this!

    • Joseph Lipper says

      I understand that Greece made cremation legal about 15 years ago. Still, it’s surprising to hear that your mother chose to be cremated. The Greek Archdiocese in America still advises against the practice for Orthodox Christians.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I understand.

  3. Molon L…. My Sympathies on your beloved mother’s passing… Just curious though- as cremation not allowed in our Christian Orthodox’ auspices… how did you go around this canonical statute?

    • Μωλον Λαβε says

      It wasn’t easy. Let’s just say this was the simplest solution to returning my mother’s remains back to Greece and keep our promise to her. I believe the Lord understands our actions very well despite any earthly authority saying otherwise.
      The Sunday before I scattered her ashes to the ocean, I asked the priest say a trisagion for her after the liturgy. I did tell him that the easiest way to bring her to Greece was to have her cremated (which was also her wish). He had no problem with that.
      Interesting phenomenon is just as I was preparing to scatter her ashes, a sizable school of small black fish gathered. What do you make of that ?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Fish are a symbol of Christ. I suspect they were there to escort her remains home.

        The Christian fish symbol also brings to mind several events in Jesus’ ministry. Twice, Jesus provided a miraculous draught of fish for His disciples (Luke 5:4–7; John 21:4–6). He ate fish with His disciples on at least two occasions after His resurrection (Luke 24:42; John 21:13). The miracle of the temple coin involved a fish (Matthew 17:27). And of course, the feeding of five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand started with a lunch that included fish (Matthew 14:15–21; 15:32–38).

      • Molon – never doubt that you did right to take your mother back to the Patrida. I think Gail is right. The fish were a tangible reflection of the metaphysical reality that the the Lord was in your midst when you returned your mother to the earth from she had first been taken. I understand our teaching on cremation. I believe it is not a theological command but guidance to suggest respect for the remains. You clearly did that in deed and spirit. It sounds like your mother was a great lady who instilled truth and values in you. May she rest forever the company of the Saints and may her remembrance be an eternal blessing to you and your loved ones.

      • The Church is not an earthly authority, but, ok.

        • Sarah Karcher says

          Yes. What is done is done, and it is obvious that the intention here was to honor the wishes of the reposed. But it needs to be emphasized here that for an Orthodox Christian to receive an Orthodox burial and funeral service, you usually have to have your body, whole and not cremated, unless there are extreme circumstances (airplane wreck, house burnt down, etc.) Memory eternal.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I agree, Sarah.

            Several years ago, Greece announced they had literally run out of burial space. The Church did not accept cremation, officially, but in some cases, I’m not sure it could be avoided. Maybe other people can shed some more light on this.

            Then there was Helen Thomas, a longtime member of the White House press corp. Her ashes were buried in Detroit, following a traditional Antiochian Orthodox funeral service. As I recall, they brought in an outside choir of children at her funeral and the priest offered an inspiring eulogy.

            Caused quite a stir.

  4. Art Samouris says

    Thank you so much for writing and posting this George.
    I had the same experiences growing up with the Greek Independence Day costumes, poems, plays, and parades.
    The EP and his minions are sadly lost but the φλόγα (flame) of the Greek Spirit is eternal.

  5. Just saying. The first people in my family arrived in 1673. And others filtered in during the 1700 and 1800s, with the last arriving around 1890. They came from Germany, France and England, with a stopover in Ireland. I am a purebred American mutt.

    Though I have visited most of these places, I really don’t identify with them. Home is here.
    Give your families a couple of hundred years and see how they feel.

    By the way, when the earliest settlers came here they started from scratch. They didn’t come into a full blown civilization.

  6. Sarah Karcher says

    I am surprised to say that I essentially forgot it was Greek Independence Day on the day of….however, my library book searches this week have been around the war for independence so some part of me knew it, I suppose. I remember Renee assigning us Greek folk poems to memorize for the celebration and being nervous to recite in front of the parish. I remember older Greek women crying when we would sing the national anthem. I feel lucky to have been taught at least a little about history and the traditional music and culture of Greece. I am Orthodox first and Greek-American second, but I am proud of the good things done by those who share my heritage and I hope some of that goodness filtered down!

    As an aside — if anyone knows of any books in English for kids of any age that touches on Greek history from this time period or really any time that isn’t Ancient Greece (theres plenty of that), I would love some pointers. Seems like slim pickins.

  7. I can’t speak for the rest but even though the Ecumenical Patriarch is hell bent on caeseropapism and destroying the church, I’m not worried. Should we be passive and mindlessly obey without speaking up? Of course not. But I’m not worried. We should always remember, the Orthodox Church is God’s church. He will preserve it.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I think this is a very healthy approach to the situation. We forget it is Christ’s Church.

      • George Michalopulos says


        This is one of those times in which I’m grateful that I’m Orthodox. No matter how much damage one bishop (or patriarch) can do, it can’t upend the Church’s theology.

        This is particularly true right now because of the incessant turmoil that the Roman Church is going through. I really admire the Tradcats but the whole Pachemama thing continues to bite them in the ass.

        As you may know, there is great controversy presently regarding as to whether the whole “Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” went according to plan. The consensus according to this broad spectrum of Catholicism seems to be that Frankie didn’t “do it right.”

        • The consensus according to this broad spectrum of Catholicism seems to be that Frankie didn’t “do it right.”

          I think this was like the third time that Russia, or the world has been “consecrated,” and every time the trads say it wasn’t done right.

          Many Trads are actually just Fatimists, they put so much stock in Fatima because it answers and fixes all of their questions and problems with modern Roman Catholicism.

    • I agree with Gail, this is really well stated. We need to speak up if we see something wrong but do it without inflamed passions and anxiety.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    I guess I am just a contrarian. I cannot help but think of all the roadblocks “Greeks” still put in the way of folks seeking Christ in the Church, not some Greekness. Where I live the Arabs predominate and they have been far more welcoming to we barbarians than the Greeks. The Arab wealthy of my parish even took in a retired Greek priest because his fellow “Greek” Orthodox, including Greek hierarchs refused to even after he and his wife had come out of retirement to try to help the local Greek parish decimated by a pedophile Greek priest.

    So as Mt 4:17 says in red letters “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” In which there is no Greek, Arab, Jew, Russian, Anglo or German, or Mongol, Black, or Yellow

    My grandfather, whom I never met, was from Bavaria. He, with his wife and children homesteaded in New Mexico in 1905. Later moved to outside Nowata, OK. During WWI, a fellow farmer borrowed his plough and “accidentally” broke it. Denying that he had, simply because my Grandfather was German. My Grandfather forgot it, my Dad never did. The rememberance of that wrong was an acid on his soul as long as he lived. My Dad tried to pass it on to me.

    So, injustices are everywhere all the time. In fact, our modern culture is a culture of grievance and rememberance of wrongs.

    The Glory of Christ and His Cross are also present in the midst of all our sufferings, if we but remember. All earthly glory is slated to pass away. As the movie Patton so eloquently pointed out: “All glory is fleeting”
    Even more to the point, Jesus tells us in Mt 24 that heaven and earth shall pass away.

    Lord, forgive us that we seek the things of the world before You and your Cross, especially in Lent.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, that’s a very poignant story you relate. Several, actually. And I agree with pretty much everything you said.

      If I may take the time at this point to address a subtler point about my comments regarding Greek Independence Day, even though we were taught to hate all things Turkish, I realized long ago that that was “an acid on my soul” as well. (Thanks for the eloquent cliche, I hope it catches on.) It’s also a collective acid on the soul of the Greek nation as well, giving us a ready-made excuse to absolve us of all our sins and defects. I for one repudiate it.

      So what was my point? That the ecumenical patriarchate is “double-minded in all its ways.” That it can’t make up its mind about anything. On the one hand, it’s Greco-supremacist, on the other hand, it’s against “ethnophyletism.” It’s like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. But also, it took the occasion of Greek Independence Day to castigate Russia.

      How childish, how churlish, how immature. How unbecoming.

      • I think the Phanar is more like Humpty Dumpty
        in Through the Looking Glass:

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

        • Gail Sheppard says

          “Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise..”

  9. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

    Time for OCA or ROCOR to step up and create a “Greek Deanery” or even a “Greek Vicariate” to minister to the Orthodox Greeks disillusioned with the (G)OAA. There are quite a few parishes in ROCOR that have Greek (often ex-GOAA) priests and Greek-style liturgics (St. Dionysius the Areopagite monastery on Long Island, St. Luke the Evangelist in Hyde Park, St. John the Russian in Ipswich, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Summerville, SC), so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see them.formally organized if Greek priests and parishes start leaving the GOAA en masse. Perhaps that will revive Greek Orthodoxy in the US, not the brand of Greek-first orthodoxy peddled by the GOAA.