What is so important about May 29? There are many reasons why we as Greek Americans remember May 29.
It could be that the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire occurred on that date. After months of fighting in the area and after 3 weeks of daily barrages the walls of the Byzantine Empire finally fell after over 1000 years of Hellenism in the region, marking the end of the Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium.
It could be the terrible events that took place between 1915 to 1923 in the Asia Minor region which killed millions of Greek, Armenian and Assyrian and other Christians as victims of the first genocide in the 20th century?
As AHEPAns we remember this date from 1963 when AHEPA dedicated the AHEPA Truman Memorial in Athens, Greece. On this day over 20,000 people gathered in Athens at the unveiling of the AHEPA statue which still stands today. Supreme President George Margoles and Prime Minister Constantine Caramanlis unveiled this massive statue.
Made of bronze and weighing over 6000 pounds this heroic statue still sits proudly at the same spot where it was unveiled. Sculptor Felix W. deWeldon, the same man who built the Iwo Jima Statue in Washington, DC, created the AHEPA statue. The statue was cast in New York and was shipped to Athens in 1963. On the pedestal bearing the statue, the following inscription is carved in both Greek and English:
“Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, April 12, 1945-January 20, 1953. Statesman-Humanitarian-Philhellene. Author and Architect of the Truman Doctrine”.
In a telegram President John F. Kennedy wrote
“I hope this outstanding memorial, which the Order of AHEPA has made possible, will come to symbolize not only our common heritage and efforts, but will serve to remind us of the high priority President Truman gave the progress of Greece toward economic development and social justice in peace and freedom”.
May 29 is a date which means many things to many people, but as AHEPAns it is a day we will soon not forget.