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March 24, 2009

Celebrate freedom with the Greeks

“Freedom or Death” is a slogan that both Americans and Greeks uttered in their respective revolutionary struggles. The two peoples also share an identity based on Western civilization, which started in ancient Greece. Thomas Jefferson called ancient Greece “the light which led ourselves out of Gothic darkness.”

The American people have been on the side of Greece since its War of Independence, starting in 1821. During that struggle, philhellenic committees were established at East Coast colleges to help the Greeks. Americans helped the Greeks fight for their freedom because of their connection to ancient Greek ideals and their Christian religion. Those committees are still a part of the fabric of American higher education today as fraternities and sororities.

The Greeks of 1821 had felt the weight of almost 400 years of Ottoman oppression and had enough. They longed to freely practice their religion and to freely educate their children in their own language.

Today is Greek Independence Day. It is a day of celebration not only for Greeks, but also for all freedom-loving people who strive for the dignity inherent in self-expression and self-determination.

Thimios Zaharopoulos



Once again name calling and hateful posts are made by the same guy, how long moderator?


You are completely correct. The Ottoman Empire was a poster state for peace and good will. Just ask anyone you know who is of Armenian descent. It's hard to understand how such a happy go lucky bunch could inspire the hatred that still exists in the Balkans.


It just seems odd that the rules do not seem to apply in regards to "African-Americans" of which the majority have NEVER been to Africa adn if they did go would more likely than not be grateful for just how oppressed they are here in this mean country that affords no opportunity to anyone except whitey.


"THREW" off the yoke............

brain fa*t


Of course it does NE.

I would be just as critical if a black person wrote that they had an ethnic connection with the most famous of the Cleopatras.


A Hamilton,

Thank you for such a civil response. After being called a fascist I was holding my breath.

The modern Greek identity, like most modern European identities were born in the period from 1300-1600. During this time the former residents of the region, who were a patchwork of peoples who'd come to the area over the previous centuries formed their "Greekness"(excuse the term, please) under a very Turkish civilization. There were thieves and brigands long before the advent of the Turk, in fact the Askani in the earlier years made a livelihood out of it. That was not a product of their being occupied. There were more Greeks in Mehmed II's army than there were Turks when he took Constantinople.

Though not taking up for the massacre in 1822 it was a reprisal for a Greek attack upon a Turkish garrison.

Nice to converse with someone well read on a topic I enjoy.

By the way, A....if the Native Americans through off the yoke of domination they've toiled under the past 400 years, would you be there behind them celebrating their independence and success in self determination and the right to practice their religion.


What about someone claiming to be 1/10 African, would the same rules apply?


solomon - Actually you do belittle the Greek people by trivializing their connection to their past cultural heritage, something not to be taken lightly.

You may find it surprising but I do agree with you on the account that many Greeks held high positions in the Ottoman government and that religion was freely practiced to an extent, that being that the religious leaders were to keep the rayas (sheep) in line and in the service of the Sultan. However, you make it sound like all the Greeks were living the high life in the good ol' Ottoman Empire when in actuality it was a very small minority and typically the aristocratic class. The welfare of the common Greek (the majority of them) was really at the whim of the Ottoman authorities whether it be through periods of excessive taxation, deportation, or massacre (e.g. Chios, 1822). It is no accident then that many of the freedom fighters were brigands, outlaws, and other destitute people and not the Grand Viziers. Do not mistake the privileges of the lucky few as the overall condition of the Greeks at the time. So maybe I didn't disagree with everything you stated but your oversimplification of the history was reckless and does a disservice to the actual spirit of the day.

Yes, I too have read books on the subject and traveled the area.


It is understandable that you'd have national pride...."-solomon

A Hamilton, don't know what has your panties in a bunch, my post does not attack the Greek people. I was responding to mischaracterizations by the letter writer.

The Greeks have as much cultural identity with the Hellenes as some modern American claiming to be 1/10 Indian. Put another way, they have as much right to claim a connection with the Hellenes as modern Egyptians claiming the national identity of the Africans who built the pyramids.

The larger lies the letter writer tells is that there was no freedom to practiice the Greek Orthodox faith and the Greeks were an oppressed people. They were a conquered people true enough, but they were a strong merchant, military and political factor during the time of the Empire. Their religious practices were not suppressed by any of the numerous Sultans. Many of the Grand Viziers were of Greek heritage, making them the virtual rulers while holding that post.

Please read a book before being offended. Nothing in your post disputes anything in mine. This happens to be an area that I have studied extensively and travelled through a number of times.


I take offense at the previous post by solomon that claims that the "bloodline of the ancient Greeks does not flow in modern Greeks". He then goes on to say that "scholars are in agreement on that issue". I guess we are to believe that the Greeks instantly disappeared from the land when the Turks or Slavs or Romans or whoever migrated/invaded the area. Yes, there was mixing of the populations as anywhere else but does that mean that Greeks became extinct when this happened? The funny thing is that the author does not even make such a claim, only that the Greeks fight for their freedom because of "their connection to ancient Greek ideals and their Christian religion". I would think that scholars would agree that their is an undisputed linguistic and cultural link between the Greeks of today and those of ancient times. By solomon's logic then we must tell our immgrant citizens, be it Hispanic-American, Polish-American, etc. that they are not allowed to celebrate on the 4th of July because they had nothing to do with the United States' founding. Please do us a favor solomon and leave your fascist ideology at home. This day is for celebrating freedom.





It is understandable that you'd have national pride, but there is no reason to distort the truth and confuse idiots like El Mon Kee.

The Osmanli conquered Asia Minor and the region that the Hellenes occupied in antiquity, but the bloodlines of the ancient Greeks does not flow through modern Greeks. The connection is regional, not ethnic. The area changed ethnically a number of times in the past 3,000 years, and scholars are in agreement on that issue.

Thimios also suggest that Greeks were not allowed to practice their religion under the Turks, nothing could be further from the truth. The Greek orthodox chuch thrived under the system, as the Turks allowed their subjects to practice their religion throughout their domain.

Funny how people like Thimios and jerks like El Mon Kee always neglect to mention that the people they kiss up to conquered their land from someone else.


Rock on Thimmy, rock on!

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