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Bay Area Greeks Celebrate 203 Years of Democracy with Flag Raising Ceremony  

Honoring the 203rd Independence Day of Greece, Taso Zografos—wearing the ceremonial white, short-skirted uniform of the Greek Presidential Guards—raised high the blue and white striped flag of Greece at San Jose City Hall Plaza on March 25.

About 75 Bay Area Greek American citizens, dignitaries, and friends gathered to honor the date in 1821 when Greeks within the Turkish Ottoman Empire rose up and fought for independence, a war lasting until 1832.

San Jose District 9 Council Member Pam Foley, emcee, introduced His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco.


“…let us call to mind the many struggles for freedom that still exist in our world. We must be vigilant in prayer for peace, for safekeeping, and for the protection of God’s beautiful creation that surrounds us,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos. “We all need to do our part.”

“It’s important to carry on the traditions of Greece. It’s the first country to have democracy!” said U.S.-born Bill Christie from San Jose.

Christie, whose parents were born in Greece, is a 50+-year member of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association).

George Zioulas, president of 70-member AHEPA Silicon Valley Chapter 251, said that AHEPA, established in 1922 to promote the Hellenic ideals of freedom of people and society, is the world’s largest Greek Hellenic organization.

SAN JOSE, CA—MARCH 25: On Monday, March 25, 2024, at 5:00 pm, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the Daughters of Penelope (DOP) commemorated the 203rd Anniversary of Greek Independence with a special Greek Flag Raising Ceremony at San Jose City Hall Plaza (Photo by Panayiota Good)

The annual Independence Day celebration, hosted by the City of San Jose, was organized by AHEPA and its sister organizations, the Daughters of Penelope and DOP’s junior auxiliary, the Maids of Athena.

“I appreciate being part of a worldwide organization of amazing women that share the same commitment and passion to help our communities, country, and the rest of the world to be a better place,” said Joanna Dunn, president of San Jose’s 50-member DOP Chapter 29.

Founded in 1929, the organization’s name honors the mythological yet revered wife of King Odysseus in Homer’s ancient epic poem “The Odyssey.”

At the end of the ceremony, youth from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in San Jose performed circle dances, including the kalamantianos—the national dance of Greece. The dancers also perform at the church’s annual Greek festival this year, May 31 to June 2.

At a City Hall reception afterward, three dancers—members of Maids of Athena Chapter 163, spoke with pride of their ethnic heritage.

“I like that the City of San Jose recognizes Greek independence,” said Eva Stouras. “I feel proud to be Greek.”

“Greek culture is very important to us. Today gives us a feeling of being connected to our background. We feel like we are family,” said Andreana Argyres.

“It’s very inspiring to see everybody get together to represent the Greek community,” said Marianna Frangides. “I hope one day my kids get to do this.”

California’s Greek American population reported for 2010 – 2014 is 133,245 (0.35 percent of the state’s population). San Francisco reported 5,573; Santa Clara County 6,480; San Jose 3,379; Sunnyvale 562; and Santa Clara 258.

“It’s great to be Greek and great to be American,” said Vassilis Zarifis, treasurer of 400-member AHEPA Golden Gate District 21. “We are uniting cultures, getting the best of both.”

“Let us come together as Hellenes, Philhellenes, and as Americans, standing together for what is good, what is right, what is fair, and let the lessons of our forebears resonate in our heart and especially in our actions to demand more from our leaders to ensure that freedom, peace, and tolerance prevail in everything we do,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos in closing his remarks.

A Greek Independence Day celebration in San Francisco, postponed by rain, took place on April 14, noon to 5 p.m., downtown at Union Square.

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