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Commemoration events for Cyprus and Greek Genocide at Astoria High School

Featured Commemoration events for Cyprus and Greek Genocide at Astoria High School

Two "black" anniversaries for Hellenism, the completion of 50 years since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the Pontian Genocide, were commemorated with four commemorative events by the Agios Dimitrios Day School in Astoria.

Εducator Dr. Irini Grapsia was the "soul" of these informative events, which proved to have - without a doubt - a very good impact on the children, who obtained useful historical information.

Specifically, on May 31st, the event was organized for the 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which led to the illegal occupation of 37% of its territory. The first event was aimed at students in grades 9-11.

The event was repeated on June 10 for grades 4-8.


The main speaker was professor and journalist Agni Stylianou, a witness to the invasion herself, as she experienced the events of 1974 in Cyprus. Through her stories, the students learned about the battles fought against the Turks, about the prisoners, the dead, the lost property, the refugees, while they were also informed about the most painful impact of the Turkish invasion, the irreparable wound of the 1619 missing.

With the descriptive description of her experiences, the speaker managed to make the children understand the emotions she felt as a teenager, running to save herself with her two younger siblings. "You should be thankful, that you haven't experienced similar situations, that you have your home and your family, clothes, shoes, school, activities and more because many of the children your age, back then, lost everything in a few hours", she said characteristically.

The events for the anniversary of the Pontic Greek Genocide took place on June 11 for the classes from 8th to 11th and on June 14 for the younger classes from 4th to 7th.

The keynote speaker was the distinguished academic Dr. Charalambos Vassiliadis, who - among others - emphasized that "the Genocide of Pontic Hellenism is one of the most tragic chapters of modern Greek history and knowledge of it is important for understanding our cultural heritage and of our historical roots".

Dr. Vassiliadis mentioned that since ancient times the Pontus region has been Greek, offering important people and achievements throughout the centuries. He also noted that the Turks exterminated 300 Greeks from the regions of Pontus, Asia Minor and eastern Thrace, every day, for 10 years. In total, they exterminated approximately 1,000,000 Greeks, of all ages, of which 353,000 were from the Pontus region. Many were put to death because they chose not to convert, that is, not to deny Orthodoxy.

Referring to the importance of organizing similar anniversary events, Dr. Grapsia underlined that "the goal is for our children to acquire a historical consciousness and to keep their Greek identity unchanged. The better we know our history as a people, the less likely we are to relive such sad situations." She added that "for us, the teachers, such presentations give us strength to continue our struggle and show us that when we work with children by setting serious goals, it bears fruit. We may see some of these fruits immediately, or they may occur much later and we will not be present."