History of the Order of AHEPA 1922 - 1972
Chapter Three: The Years 1927 - 1929
Fifth Supreme Convention
August 29 to September 3, 1927 - Miami, Florida
The Fifth Supreme Convention was held in Miami, Fla., at the Columbus Hotel, August 29 to September 3, 1927. The officers of the Convention business sessions were:
Achilles Catsonis, Chairman; Philip Stylianos, Vice Chairman; and Alexander Page, Secretary.
There were 122 delegates present, including ten Supreme Lodge officers, seven members of the Mother Lodge, and 105 Chapter delegates.
The convention mandated the following:
(1) $1,000 for the relief of needy brethren;
(2) To sponsor the American College at Athens, Greece;
(3) To inaugurate a campaign to raise $50,000 for the "Mana Sanatorium" in Greece;
(4) To spend $1,000 for research work to compile all historical information relating to the aid given by American citizens to Greece in her 1821 struggle for independence;
(5) Endorsing the action of the YMCA to establish branches in Greece;
(6) Legislated the Order of Sons of Pericles into the jurisdiction of the Order of Ahepa and the appointment of a Supreme Advisor to supervise the work of the Junior Order;
(7) To publish a Bulletin every two weeks for the membership;
(8) Made the office of Supreme President honorary with no salary but with travel expenses;
(9) Created two new Districts for the western states;
(10) To hold an Excursion to Greece to be called "the Ahepa trip to Greece," and
(11) Selected Detroit as the next convention site.
The Chapter Delegates to this convention were:
Tony Hadji, Charlotte, N.C.; Nick Giannaris, Charleston, S.C.; Dr. G. M. Saliba, Savannah, Ga.; George Smitzes and N. Contax, Tampa, Fla.; T. M. Parsons, Tulsa, Okla.; A. Horologas, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Elias Smitzes, Tarpon Springs, Fla.; Charles Dixie, Dallas, Texas; George Demeter, Boston; Dean Alfange and John Dounoukos, New York City; Michael Dorizas, Philadelphia; James Karamhelas and John Billias, Asheville, N.C.; James Cafcalas, Houston, Tex.; Nicholas Sakelos, Baltimore; George Thomaides, Washington, D.C.; Arthur Karkalas, Pittsburgh; Philip Stylianos, Nashua, N.H.; C. A. Tsangadas, Cleveland; Achilles Catsonis, Syracuse, N.Y.; Alex D. Varkas, Brookline, Mass.; Alex Patrellis, Detroit; Peter Catavolos, Brooklyn; E. A. Coronis and George A. Stathes, New York City; J. Papador, Milwaukee; Soterios Docos, Manchester, N.H.; William Roussis and D. Parry, Chicago; E. Rassias, Waterbury, Conn.; A. C. Kirios, Lynn, Mass.; George Veras, Yonkers, N.Y.; John Givas, Newark, N.J.; G. Theodorou, St. Louis; Andrew C. Angelson, Paterson, N.J.; George Demopoulos, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Peter Stavropoulos, Brockton, Mass.; P. L. Adams and Peter Demos, Canton, Ohio; John Stathius, Allentown, Pennsylvania; J. Toulas, Reading, Pennsylvania; Steve Kremastiotes, Bridgeport, Conn.; John D. Petrou, Akron, Ohio; Nicholas Notarys, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; E. J. Lagouros, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; A.G. Galanes, Astoria, N.Y.; Mike Frangos, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Peter Skokos, Trenton, N.J.; Alex J. Page, Kansas City, Mo.; George Lagakos, New Brunswick, N.J.; Jerry Nickas, Sunbury, Pennsylvania; Peter A. Romas, Binghamton, N.Y.; P. E. Volo, Gary, Ind.; John Pappas, Chester, Pennsylvania; Dr. Anthony Vamvas, Worcester, Mass.; E. Malas, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Louis Constantine, Portland, Me.; Rev. S. S. Spathy, Richmond, Va.; James Veras, Scranton, Pennsylvania; George B. Andronicos, Springfield, Mass.; George J. Gibas, Jamaica, N.Y.; John Borovilos, New Castle, Pennsylvania; John Aronis, Warren, Ohio; Const. G. Economou, Youngstown, Ohio; P. Nicholson, Danbury, Conn.; J. I. Evans, Buffalo, N.Y.; Gus Pappas, Steubenville, Ohio; Dr. C. J. Thomas, Chicago; Peter G. Sikokis, Chicago; John Govatos, Wilmington, Del.; P. Siniaris, Clarksburg, W. Va.; Anthony Rallis, New Haven, Conn.; Peter Marianopoulos, Stamford, Conn.; J. S. Stratigos, South Bend, Ind.; Steven S. Johnson, New Bedford, Mass.; Soterios Sampatacos, Lowell, Mass.; J. H. De Metro, Weirton, W. Va.; Achilles Joahnides, Providence, R. I.; C. G. Poulakos, Erie, Pennsylvania; Nick D. Mousmoules, Jersey City, N.J.; John Catsampas, Pottsville, Pennsylvania; John Marcopoulos, Norwich, Conn.; Nicholas Florides, Dayton, Ohio; E. G. Vaffeus, Plainfield, N.J.; Peter D. Bekeros, Newburgh, N.Y.; A. A. Adams, Toledo, Ohio; George Skaliotes, Peabody, Mass.; James M. Kotsobolos, Moline, Ill; S. Logaras, Norfolk, Va.; P. C. Karavassos, Morgantown, W. Va.; John Manos, Schenectady, N.Y.; M., Frangidakis, Lewiston, Me.; J. Dellis, Bluefield, W. Va.; Const.' Pellias, New Orleans, La.; J. Constand, Lynchburg, Va.; E. Apostolou, Roanoke, Va.; Louis Pappas, Fall River, Mass.; N. Katis, Flint, Mich.; S. Vlakousis, Lansing, Mich.; Tom N. Katris, Utica, N.Y.; Harry Zaharas, Elyria, Ohio; S. J. Tsenes, Joliet, Ill.; Thomas Jennett, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Supreme Lodge elected by the Miami convention was:
Dean Alfange, Supreme President;
George E. Phillies, Supreme Vice President;
Achilles Catsonis, Supreme Secretary;
George J. Willias, Supreme Treasurer;
Philip Stylianos, Supreme Counsellor
And the following Supreme Governors
Alexander Varkas, James Veras, Philip Peppas, George G. Smitzes; P. E. Volo, S. S. Spathy, C. R. Nixon, G. Theodorou, Alexander Petrelis, N. C. Calogeras, and George C. Peterson.
Since the Ahepa Constitution provided at the time that the new Supreme Lodge officers would take office one month after election, Dean Alfange was inaugurated into office as Supreme President on October l, 1927 at the Pythian Temple in New York City.
In the December, 1927 issue of "The Ahepa Bulletin" Supreme President Dean Alfange published the following article, entitled “Why We Progress”
"WHY WE PROGRESS"
Five years ago there was hardly a Greek who would have believed that his kin in this country could accomplish in so short a time all that is represented by the word Ahepa It would challenge our fondest hopes to believe that there could be organized within five years nearly one hundred sixty chapters scattered throughout the length and breadth of this land which would stand as beacon lights for truth and progress.
At the time this Order was founded our people were so immersed and entangled in petty political, religious and communal quarrels that they lost vision of their welfare, their mission and the limitless opportunities which exist here in the land of their adoption. So the Ahepa, seeming divinely ordained, came to lift the barriers of misunderstanding and clear the path for the progress of our people. It delivered them from a self-imposed conviction, for the Greek people, it seems, had concluded that they could never unite their efforts and cooperate with one another for the promotion of a common cause. It has eliminated provincialism, prejudice and fanaticism. It has brought to the vision of our people the opportunities which result from fraternity and cooperation.
The Ahepa has profited from the sad experiences of the past. It has eliminated from its organic make-up all those factors which in the past contributed to the inability of the Greek people to unite. It is non-political. It is non-sectarian. It is fraternal and benevolent. It speaks the English language. It follows American methods. It vibrates with the spirit of progress. It has none of the earmarks of the Greek organizations of the past. This is the secret of its success. That is why the Ahepa is accomplishing for the Greeks of America things which a few years ago we believed impossible.
Institutions, like men, are molded by the environment in which they find themselves. The men who first settled in America were dauntless pioneers of civil liberty and religious freedom. They braved the dangers of an unknown Atlantic and came to a western wilderness that they might live as free men. They created an environment of freedom and of progress. That dauntless spirit which they possessed was inculcated upon their children, their grandchildren and those who followed them to these virgin shores. It has passed down from generation to generation until it has become of the very atmosphere of this land. In this country a man is taken for what he is worth as a man regardless of whence he came and irrespective of the religion he professes. In Europe a man is generally taken for what his family is worth. He is taken not for what he is, but for what he appears to be. There people are divided into classes and castes and a man is supposed to remain in the class in which he is born. If he attempts to emerge he is looked upon with suspicion by those above him. He is looked upon as a foreigner and an intruder and every effort is made to hold him down. But in this country things are different. Here the counterfeit does not pass. Here the real and the genuine coin is demanded. Here there is no limit for the man of character and ability, no matter how humble his origin or adverse his circumstances. This is the difference between America and Europe. This is why America is progressive. And this is why we have made the Ahepa an American organization. We want it to be progressive. We want it to serve the Greek people honestly and unselfishly.
If this order were founded by demagogues for the purpose of exploiting the Greek people as they have done in the past, they would not call it an American organization. They would not call it nons-ectarian, they would not make the English language its official medium of expression. If they did these things then the Order would become progressive and their plans would be frustrated. They would try to sing us to sleep with lullabyes of Greek patriotism, Greek language, Greek orthodoxy. It would be the same old refrain. They would find no better pretext to justify their machinations. But the Greek people are no longer asleep. They are wide awake. The phenomenal success of the Ahepa reflects the renaissance of the Greek people in America. The true Ahepan cherishes the deepest reverence for the land of his origin, its language, its history and its traditions. He is proud of his noble heritage. He is proud of those mighty contributions which Greece has made to civilization. He has no use whatever for the Greek who will attempt to hide his nationality or belittle his native land. But he will not permit these sacred sentiments to be used as tools of exploitation.
And the far-sighted group of men who scarcely six years ago founded this fraternity fully realized these things. They foresaw that the real need of the Greeks of this country was an organization American in essence. They realized that only such an organization could eliminate the prejudices, antipathies, and misunderstandings of the past. They realized that only through such an organization could the Greek people catch the progressive spirit of the country. They realized that only such an organization could win for them the confidence and esteem of the American public. So fully appreciating these principles, they founded an American non-sectarian Order for men of Hellenic extraction and called it Ahepa
Their convictions have been amply justified. The Ahepa has advertised the Greek people as no other agency has ever been able to do. A few years ago we were hardly known to the American public. We had our merchants, our bankers, our men of letters, our scientists, but they were lost in the masses. The Ahepa has introduced the Greek people and has demonstrated their worth as constructive builders. It has convinced the American public that the Greeks are of their finest, most progressive and most patriotic citizens. And it has given them the opportunities which come with knowledge of the language and institutions of this land.
The Ahepa is built for the centuries. Fraternalism is its cornerstone. Unselfish service is its aim. It is beyond the reach of the demagogue and the exploiter. It has fulfilled the greatest need of the Greek people in this country."
Dean Alfange, December, 1927
Achilles Catsonis, Supreme Secretary, devoted his full time at the Ahepa Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and was also the Editor of The Ahepa Bulletin.
During the fiscal year of 1927-1928, an additional thirty-seven new Chapters were added to the rolls of Ahepa and 3,822 new members were initiated into the Order of Ahepa
It was during this fiscal year that the author's home Chapter in Wichita, Kansas was established (#187). Although only 12 years old at the time, I can especially remember the visits made to Wichita in late 1927 and early 1928 by Supreme Governor C. R. Nixon of Tulsa, Okla., as well as P. J. "Barba" Stamos, member of the Mother Lodge and one of the Founders of Ahepa, for the purpose of organizing the proposed chapter in the city. Discussions were held in various homes, with prospects for membership, and finally the new Chapter was established with initiations and installation of officers. The first item on the agenda was the rental of space on the second floor of a downtown small office building for use as a Chapter Lodge Room, or meeting room. Enthusiasm ran high among the Greek community of Wichita, and both my father and my uncle were Charter Members of the new Chapter.
The local newspapers reported the entry of Ahepa into the community with favorable articles. The Chapter meeting room was also given over to use for afternoon Greek school classes for the children of Greek parentage, from 4 to 6 p.m., three days a week, after the end of the public school day. Teachers were volunteers, including my father, who left his confectionery business three afternoons a week to teach a class at the Greek school. Other teachers were an Ahepan who owned a restaurant, and housewives, who were qualified to teach Greek.
Later, when larger space was secured by the Ahepa Chapter in another location, and again on the second floor of a building, the larger room was divided into two areas. The main area was the Ahepa Chapter Room, suitably furnished with lodge room paraphernalia and furniture, and the other area as a Greek Church. Although the Greek community was too small in numbers to financially support a regular priest, Greek Orthodox Church services were held at least once a month by a visiting priest from either Kansas City, Oklahoma City, or Tulsa, where established churches existed.
There were, at most, thirty Greek families in Wichita, with another fifteen families living in other towns within a radius of 150 miles of the city. The use of the Ahepa Chapter Room as a church went on for more than 20 years, until the community was finally able to build a small church of its own after World War II.
The Ahepa Chapter in Wichita brought not only the benefits of language training in both Greek and English to the community, but also trained its members in the basic requirements of parliamentary procedure, no little achievement in itself.
The Ahepa Chapter also served as a "social director" for the city and surrounding area through the monthly dances that were held at the Ahepa Hall, bringing both young and old together in constant social events. Annual March 25th celebrations were held, commemorating the date of March 25, 1821, when Greece began its Revolutionary War for Independence from Turkey, after 400 years of subjugation. Within a year or two, the Chapter began a series of annual Balls at a local hotel ballroom, to which Ahepans from as far away as Kansas City, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, would come. In return, the Wichita Ahepans and their families would make it a point to attend the same type of social functions in those far-off cities.
Ahepa dances or balls were always divided into two parts-the Greek folk-dances or circle dances, and what we called "American" dancing, the waltzes, fox trots. This exists today, all over the country, wherever an Ahepa dance or ball is held, and frankly, there is always much more participation when the Greek dancing begins, both among young and old. The Greek folk-dance, or village dance, is the most popular simply because Greek dancing is lively, and affords everyone a chance to dance, with no "wallflowers," since no dancing partner is required. Greek dancing is possibly the world's best example of group participation, and a guaranteed way of having a good time. Entire families attend Ahepa dances, and no one stays home when these events come along.
And the annual Ahepa picnic was always a special event, with the entire family spending the day at some suitable picnic grounds. The program sometimes started from early morning, with races, games, baseball games, volley ball, and dancing in the ground pavilion, or on the ground. Whole lambs were put to cooking over open fires or outdoor ovens, from sunup. So many non-Greek friends always wanted to attend these picnics that invitations had to be limited for lack of space.
In reviewing some of the events of the year of 1927-28, we find that Ahepa collected the following funds for charitable use:
For the Corinth Relief Fund - $43,378.88
For the Greek War Orphans - $4,619.86
For the Statue of Ypsilanti - $3,672.85
For the Mana Sanatorium - $1,701.25
For Athens College - $177.00
For the Greek YMCA - $50.00
A total of $53,787.83 was raised for charitable, educational, and philanthropic purposes.
(Multiply the above donations by 14.6 to understand what the value is in 2020 Dollars - For example, $53,787.83 would be approximately $785,000)
Corinth Earthquake Relief Fund
During the year a disastrous earthquake struck in the Corinth area of Greece. The old city of Corinth suffered an earthquake in 1858 which destroyed the city, and the new city was rebuilt then. Again, in 1928, a severe earthquake struck the city, and the Ahepa responded with funds to assist the suffering populace. More than $43,000.00 was collected in the few months prior to the next convention.
Some of the Ahepa Activities that highlighted the year included:
Washington, D.C. Chapter #31 had featured speakers Dr. Constas, George C. Vournas, and Achilles Catsonis at a meeting … . Harrisburg, Pennsylvania donated $200 to a sick brother … . Twenty-five Ahepans went to Greece on board the S.S. Lord Byron in November. … An announcement was made in December that the 1928 Ahepa Excursion to Greece would depart from New York on March 19, 1928 … . Supreme Secretary Achilles Catsonis published an article entitled "America's Service Towards Greek Independence" in the December, 1928 issue of The Ahepa Bulletin … . Springfield, Mass. dedicated its new Club Rooms on Oct. 23, 1927 … . Wilmington, Del. Ahepan John Govatos, bank president, was a delegate to the National Harbors and Rivers Convention in Washington, D.C … . Supreme Counsellor Stylianos, Nashua, N.H., ran for the Board of Education … . Mayor Thomas P. Stoney, Ahepan of Charleston, S.C. was re-elected to the mayor's office … . Philanthropist Ery Kehaya of New York,, donated a quarter million to charity that year, and also joined Ahepa … . Ahepans from 8 nearby chapters attended initiations at Hartford, Conn.
Brother Elias Janetis, President of Springfield, Mass., lectured on "The Philike Etairia" at New York #25 meeting.; … Washington, D.C. organized an Ahepa Bowling League … . Fresno, Cal., took part in the Armistice Day parade … . Mayor Sebring of Joliet, Ill. spoke at an Ahepa open meeting … . Asheville, N.C. won its fourth annual First Prize in the Armistice Day parade … . Norfolk, Va. announced successful Americanization classes … . The January, 1928 issue of The Ahepa Bulletin carried an article "The Greek Settlement of New Smyrna, Florida" which described the settlement of 1,500 colonists brought to Florida by Dr. Turnbull in 1768. There were 400 Greeks among the colonists. In 1968, the Order of Ahepa erected a monument at New Smyrna Beach, Fla., commemorating the arrival of these first Greek immigrants to America, and the history of that settlement has been told in Part I of this book.
A notice was also carried in that issue announcing the formation of "The Maids of Athens" at Springfield, Mass., by the Chapter, under the direction of Brother E. L. Janetis. The first officers of The Maids of Athens Chapter were:
Maria Perivolas, President; Lucy Cokkinias, Vice President; Democlia Janetis, Secretary; Beatrice Soticopoulos, Treasurer; Helen Andricopoulos, Governor; Toula Saris, Governor; Helen Megas, Governor; Athina Hassapeli, Priestess, Catherine Caranicolas, Warden, and Helen Kotopodas, Sentinel.
President E. G. Vaffeus of Plainfield, N.J. Chapter retired from active service to enter Bloomfield Seminary for studies to become a Greek Orthodox priest. … Tarpon Springs, Fla. Chapter was a principal in the annual Epiphany Day ceremonies which more than 5,000 persons attended … . Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania banquet featured twenty local and state officials … . Paterson, N.J. started a Building Fund … . Mayor DeBussy of Meriden, Conn. was featured speaker at the Chapter installation … . More than 5,000 people attended the 1927 Ahepa Combined Ball of New York chapters, which featured Vincent Lopez, and the stars of George White's Scandals and Ziegfeld's Follies … . Haverhill, Mass. held a series of 16 lectures during the year … . Yorkville, Ohio donated 1,000 boxes of candy and 50 baskets of food to the needy at Christmas.
On February 8, 1928, the Supreme Lodge of the Order of Ahepa visited President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.
The Supreme Lodge awarded 12 Ahepa Scholarships to outstanding students of Greek descent. … Announcement was made of the drive to raise $5,000 for the erection of an Ahepa statue of Greek Gen. Demetrius Ypsilanti of the Greek War of Independence of 1821, at Ypsilanti, Michigan, named after Ypsilanti … . Delphi Chapter #25 of New York City raised $2,600.00 for a needy member … . The announced Ahepa Scholarships were awarded to: E. Perivolas, Nicholas Argyr, John Sakellaris, Const. Gatsos, C. L. Orphanides, M. G. Stratidakis, Arthur Hassiotis, Vasilios Vasiliou, Dan Pananicles, George Vanson, Peter Louris, and T. Protopapas … . a member wrote to the Supreme Lodge: "I learned more in one year being a member of the Ahepa than during the six years I have been in the United States. If you want to learn something, enlist in the ranks of the Ahepa"
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania featured top public officials at its banquet … . Weirton, W. Va. organized its own band … . More than 6,000 people attended the public installation of 60 Ahepa officers at the Aragon Ballroom, of the 4 Chicago Chapters … . Mayor Siefkin of Moline, Ill.; Dr. Lowther and Prof. Brouzas of Morgantown, W. Va.; Judge Martin, State Senator Harris, Sheriff Brown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Judge Branch and Dr. Michou of Manchester, N.H.; all were featured speakers at Ahepa functions in their cities.
The March, 1928 issue of The Ahepa Bulletin featured extensive material on America's participation in the 1821 Greek War of Independence, prepared by Supreme Secretary Achilles Catsonis.
In an editorial in the Manchester, N.H. Leader on March 27, 1928, the following appeared in reference to the remarks of Thomas R. Varick at an Ahepa banquet:
Fifteen years ago, the Greeks were a new people here. At that time a lady came to me and asked, what sort of people are the Greeks? I wish you would tell me. 'Madam' replied Mr. Varick, 'come and ask me that question in fifteen years. The Greeks are a new people in this country, unacquainted with our language, unacquainted with our ways, at the greatest possible disadvantage. There is only one person who can legitimately call himself an American, and that is the Indian. You would speak of me as an American. My people came from Holland and England, back there in earliest colonial times. I am an American whose people got here some generations ahead of other race elements that in time will be called by no other name except American.'
The fifteen years have passed and I will answer that lady's question. What sort of people are the Greeks?
People who in that short time have become prominent in our business and social life, owners of real estate, heads of enterprises, doctors, lawyers, teachers in our schools, loyal citizens of our state and nation, good Americans, patriotic Americans.
In Canton, Ohio, the columnist "General Stark, the Man on the Square" of the Canton Daily News wrote:
The banquet was arranged by Ahepa officials in Canton to acquaint the native-born Americans in Canton with the work and activities of one of the most patriotic and public-spirited organizations in the city: Ahepa, composed entirely of American citizens of Greek extraction. There were many American-born citizens, prominent in the life of the city and county present at the banquet.
With such men as Judge Charles Krichbaum, Rev. Dr. P. H. Welshimer, Emery A. McCuskey, Judge Alva L. Deal, Judge U. S. Johnston, Mayor C. C. Curtis, E. J. Landor, Mayor Homer M. Johns of Massillon, Ohio, William E. Strassner and others at the banquet, members of Ahepa certainly gained their objective of letting the people know of their activities.
The revelation of the speakers of Greek descent were surprising to many of the American-born citizens who heard them, just as they would be to many right here in Canton now. But to others who have watched the progress of this great organization since its founding a scant five years ago, the revelations were not so surprising. Ahepa has accomplished wonders in teaching and instilling into the hearts of its members the ideals of American citizenship. Further than that, it is seeking cooperation on the part of American-born citizens in its effort to continue its work with more success.
There were many of the American-born citizens at the meeting who felt that we would be living in an even greater United States if our own citizens, whose forefathers sacrificed to gain liberty for us, were as patriotic toward the nation as are these citizens who only comparatively recently came to our shores.
I want to express my gratitude for the work done and being done by Ahepa in Canton and to extend my heartiest cooperation.
There was a note in the Ahepa Bulletin that "Brother E. J. Demas, member of the Washington, D.C. Chapter No. 31, has received a letter from Commander Byrd asking him to go to the North Pole on his expedition, as airplane mechanic. Brother Demas accompanied Commander Byrd on his expedition to the North Pole." … Bridgeton, N.J. held installations attended by Mayor Erickson, Sheriff Evans, Chamber of Commerce Secretary Smashey … . Lawrence, Mass. held its 4th annual ball. … Wilmington, Del. held its 4th annual banquet and speakers were Governor Robinson of Delaware, Mayor Forrest, Senator Bayard, Congressmen Houston and Marvel. … Manchester, N.H. celebrated Greek Independence Day at a dinner of more than 500 featuring Thomas Varick, City Clerk Gilmore, Police Chief Healy, Sheriff O'Dowd, Lions Club President Crane, Schools Superintendent Benezet, and Secretary of State Pillsbury … .
In a letter dated March 19, 1928 from the City Aldermen of Ypsilanti, Michigan, the City officially accepted the offer of the Order of Ahepa to erect a monument in their city in honor of Greek Revolutionary hero Gen. Demetrius Ypsilanti, after whom the city was named. The Ahepa Committee in charge of the project was: Supreme Governor A. Petrelis Perry, D. G. Christopoulos (Chairman), Dr. Hale, Dr. Moisides, N. A. Nicholson, Charles Diamond, Constantine DeMoes, C. A. Tsangadas, J. Vouvakis, and James Balas, and work proceeded to complete the project.
Reading, Pennsylvania held its 3rd annual banquet and dance featuring Robert Birch, high school principal as toastmaster, with speakers Mayor Stump, Rev. Charles Roth, Rev. Herman Miller, Congressman Esterly … Theodore Agnew (father of Spiro T. Agnew) was toastmaster of the Baltimore, Md. dinner, with speakers Mayor Broening, Dr. C. E. Miller, Francis White, Professor of Greek at Johns Hopkins … . Savannah, Ga. sponsored a Boy Scout Troop which won top honors in county competition … . In a publication issued at Astoria, N. Y. in March, 1928 this comment was made by Captain Helm of the Police Department: "Out of three thousand seven hundred fifty-five arrests made by the local Police Department for the current year, the Greeks can proudly state that they are not represented in that list."
Mayor Hanna of Syracuse, N. Y. wrote the following: "Your organization helps to furnish an outlet for the social-mindedness of many of our citizens and by that very opportunity helps to build a bigger and better Syracuse. There is a place in Syracuse for every organization which has those aims. I am proud to recognize the Ahepa as one of the orders which is helping Syracuse, and I trust that your future may be as bright as your present prospects." … Mrs. Maude Howe Elliott, daughter of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe of Boston, who gave such tremendous service to Greece in her 1821 War of Independence, attended a banquet on March 25 given by the Boston, Mass. and Brookline, Mass. Ahepa Chapters. Schenectady, N.Y. Chapter organized an Ahepa Business Men's Club within the chapter. … Washington, D.C. Chapter adopted a resolution submitted by Brother George C. Vournas to present an Ahepa National Banquet during the annual Supreme Lodge meeting, with guests to the banquet to be chosen by the chapters throughout the country from the legislative, judicial, educational or journalistic fields of the country … .
AHEPA's First Excursion to Greece
The First Ahepa Excursion to Greece left New York City on March 19, 1928 on board the S. S. "Sinaia" with about 500 Ahepans and their families, led by Supreme President Dean Alfange. Other Ahepans also left for Greece on other ships, so that approximately 1,000 in all arrived in Greece on this first pilgrimage of the Ahepa
(Continued on page 222)
The first Ahepa Excursion to Greece in 1928. Supreme Lodge officers A. Petrellis Perry, Parasco Volo, Dean Alfange, Geo. E. Phillies, S. S. Spathey, C. R. Nixon.
Ahepans on the 1929 Ahepa Excursion to Greece.
The Ahepa Patrol of Lowell, Mass. # 102 in 1928.
(Continued from page 220)
As Supreme President Dean Alfange reported from Greece:
It was the first time in the history of Hellenism of America that an organized group of nearly 1,000 men undertook as a unit to traverse 5,000 miles of water for the purpose of paying a visit of good will to the land of their origin. Every Ahepan who participated … was an ambassador with a given mission to perform. The Supreme Lodge had designated the Supreme President as Commander, with Supreme Vice President George E. Phillies as Executive Officer, Supreme Governor C. R. Nixon as Chief Adjutant, Supreme Governor A. Petrellis Perry as Officer of the Day, Supreme Governor Parasco Volo as Sanitary and Supply Officer, Supreme Governor S. S. Spathey as Chaplain and Moderator, and George S. Gibas as Commander of Colors. Greek Independence Day (March 25th) was celebrated on board ship.
The ship was met at Piraeus by Chamber of Commerce representatives, naval officers, newspapermen, motion picture cameramen, and newspaper photographers. The Mayor of Piraeus received them, and the excursionists were driven to Athens where they headquartered at the Grande Bretagne Hotel. The Mayor of Athens, Members of Parliament, and local organizations all called to welcome the group to Greece. A grand parade was held in downtown Athens on April 6, with the city decorated with Greek and American flags, while the Ahepans paraded thru the streets, all wearing their fezzes, carrying canes, and with Ahepan banners of their respective cities and Chapters. The streets of Athens were crowded, and the parade wound up at Athens City Hall where Mayor Patsis held a reception for the excursionists. City Hall was surrounded by a mob of people estimated at almost 100,000. American Minister to Greece Robert Skinner spoke, as did the Mayor, from an elevated veranda, outside City Hall. Then, the procession started again from City Hall, to Constitution Square, and to the Church where a special doxology mass was held. The Mayor of Athens remarked that the day's events were the greatest celebration that Athens had ever witnessed, and the largest crowds in history.
There were many receptions the following days by the Chamber of Commerce, the city of Athens, and other groups, at Olympic stadium, Eleusis, and a visit to Admiral Paul Koundouriotis, President of the Republic.
A bust statue of Hermes in white Pentelic marble was presented to the Ahepa by the American Legion Post of Athens, and the statue is now at the Ahepa Headquarters in Washington, D.C. While in Athens, the members of the Supreme Lodge gave $5,000 to the Mayors of Piraeus and Athens to be distributed to the orphans and needy of the two cities.
The 1928 Ahepa Excursion to Greece was the first such venture undertaken by any American group, and this first voyage was the forerunner not only of succeeding annual Ahepa Excursions to Greece, but also of other organizations who, seeing the success with which the project was received, began planning their own excursions to Greece at Easter time of each year.
It may be difficult for the reader who is not of Greek descent, or whose family is more than two generations removed from European soil, to understand the close attachment that existed then, and still exists, between Americans of Greek descent, and the people who live in Greece, Even in this late year of 1972 the members of Ahepa, in comparatively large numbers, have fathers and mothers still alive in Greece, or brothers and sisters, or at least nephews and nieces, and certainly, first and second cousins. The preponderance of Greek immigration came after 1905, and has continued ever since, in large waves in some years, almost a trickle in others as quota limitations were imposed by the U.S. government, and the communication between the peoples of the two countries has always been kept open through constant correspondence, and visits.
The local newspapers described the July picnic of the Ahepa held at Stanton Park in Steubenville, Ohio as "one of the largest picnics of its kind ever held in the Ohio Valley." More than 2,000 people attended from Wheeling, Yorkville, Washington, Pennsylvania, Akron, Warren, Pittsburgh, Weirton, Cleveland and Buffalo … . The Florida Ahepa District held its first District Convention in Orlando … . Mayor William F. Broening of Baltimore issued a city proclamation asking citizens to contribute to the Ahepa drive for relief funds for the earthquake victims of Corinth … Ahepan Elias Janetis publishes his book on the "Philike Hetairia" the secret society that established the foundation for the Greek Revolutionary War of 1821. … Woburn, Mass. Mayor Johnson proclaimed June 3rd as "Ahepa Day" in the city as the occasion of the installation of the Ahepa Chapter … . Ahepan Nick Bozinis of Elmira, N. Y. won the middleweight wrestling championship of the world by defeating champion Joe Turner. … President Theodore S. Agnew, of the Baltimore Ahepa Chapter, spoke at an open meeting in that city, refuting charges that Ahepa is against the Greek language and religion … . Nashua, N.H., with the assistance of the Boston Patrol, took first prize in the city parade … . The Tsintsinian Society, oldest Greek organization in America, held its convention in Jamestown, N. Y. and designated one day as "Ahepa Day" in honor of Ahepa … the Tsintsinians were among the first Greek immigrants to arrive in America in the 1880's in any appreciable numbers.
The Sixth Supreme Convention
August 27 to September 1, 1928 - Detroit, Michigan
The 1928 convention in Detroit was the largest in history to that time, with 164 delegates present. Besides the Supreme Lodge, Mother Lodge Members Harry Angelopoulos, John Angelopoulos, Nicholas D. Chotas, George A. Polos, and P. J. Stamos, the following delegates represented their Chapters:
A. E. Constantine, Atlanta; Theodore Gianaris, Charleston, S.C.; Dr. G. M. Saliba, Savannah, Ga.; Frank Demetros, Jacksonville, Fla.; N. N. Contax, Tampa, Fla.; Tony Crystal, Tulsa, Okla.; Gregory Constantine and George Morris, Miami; A. J. Horologas, St. Petersburg, Fla.; John T. Diamandis and John K. Douglas, Tarpon Springs; Sam Georges, Ft. Worth; George Cordes and Peter Vouchelas, New York City; George Cambanis, Philadelphia; James K. Karambelas and Pete Trouros, Asheville, N.C.; John L. Nicholas, Houston; Angelo Schiadaressi, Baltimore; George C. Vournas and Const. Placokefalos, Washington, D.C.; Arthur A. Karkalas, Pittsburgh; Const. A. Tsangadas, Cleveland; N.D. Spinos, Syracuse, N.Y.; George D. Raptieu and Charles N. Diamond, Detroit, Mich.; Thomas S. Themelis, Brooklyn; Zacharias E. Djimas and Emanuel G. Psaki, New York City; Stanley Stacey and C. C. Canellopoulos, Milwaukee; A. J. Bafallis and Soterios Docos, Manchester, N.H.; D. E. Alex and P. J. Prattes, Chicago; Milton Gounaris, Lawrence, Mass.; Peter N. Laskas and Nicholas Anastos, Waterbury, Conn.; C. J. Critzas, Yonkers, N.Y.; John A. Givas, Newark, N.J.; John Karzin, St. Louis; A. C. Angelson and Samuel Aros, Paterson, N.J.; James Steliotis and Athanasios Petropoulos, WilkesBarre, Pennsylvania; James Tzimoulis, Hartford, Conn.; Andrew Nickas, Canton, Ohio; George Fullas, Allentown, Pennsylvania; Louis Sofianos, Reading, Pennsylvania; James G. Sentimentes, Bridgeport, Conn.; John D. Petrou, Akron, Ohio; Nicholas Notarys, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Chris N. Geanakopolis, Minneapolis; Constantine Austin, Rochester, N.Y.; William Essaris and Pete Vamis, Wheeling, W. Va.; Thomas Shissias, Camden, N.J.; Soteris Lagges, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Michael D. Konomos, Kansas City, Mo.; Nick Orphan, Massillon, Ohio; George Lagakos, New Brunswick, N.J.; Louis Daniel, Sunbury, Pennsylvania; S. G. Gianakouros, Binghamton, N.Y.; Louis H. George, Gary, Ind.; Nicholas D. Diacumakos, Chester, Pennsylvania; Dr. Ph. Kyritsis, Worcester, Mass.; Nick Paikos, Ft. Wayne, Ind.; L. K. Constantine, Portland, Me.; George Subley, Richmond, Va.; Peter Chakiris and Paul Kaldes, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Elias J anetis, Springfield, Mass.; Nicholas Lampadakis, Jamaica, N.Y.; George Karides, New Castle, Pennsylvania; Chris Charnas, Warren, Ohio.
Const. Economou, Youngstown, Ohio; Chris Demopoulos, Buffalo, N.Y.; Louis Fronistas, Steubenville, Ohio; A. A. Pantelis and M. N . Lambros, Chicago; George A. Kyriakopoulos and Harry G. Boolookos, Chicago; Alexander Poulicos and Steve Sarafis, Clarksburg, W. Va.; George E. Johnson, Astoria, N.Y.; Anthony Rallis, New Haven, Conn.; Peter Maryannopoulos, Stamford, Conn.; Nicholas A. Kandis, South Bend, Ind.; Steven Johnson, New Bedford, Mass.; Dr. T. A. Stamas, Lowell, Mass.; Gust Barbush, Steve Doulis, Weirton, W. Va.; John Koliopoulos, Oak Park, Ill.; George K. Demopoulos, Providence, R.I.; George K. Alexander and Const. Morris, Jersey City, N.J.; Carl Dakis, Pottsville, Pennsylvania; John Romas, Elmira, N.Y.; Peter G. Giftos, Pittsfield, Mass.; Const. Zahars, Dayton, Ohio; E. G. Vaffeus, Plainfield, N.J.; Peter Bekyros, Newburgh, N.Y.; Alex Chanaka and George Laskey, Uniontown, Pennsylvania; Anthony A. Adams, Toledo, Ohio; James N. Kotsovolos, Moline, Ill.; George Pahno, Norfolk, Va.; G. D. Skufakis, Hammond, Ind.; P. C. Karavassos, Morgantown, W. Va.; John Manos, Schenectady, N.Y.; Peter C. Malas, Cincinnati, Ohio; Costas Athan, Joliet, Ill.; George D. Panos, Bluefield, W. Va.; A. E. Couloheras, New Orleans, La.; Peter Zenings, Pontiac, Mich.; Nicholas D. Duskas, Watertown, N.Y.; J. N. Castros, Roanoke, Va.; Angel Triffon, Columbus, Ohio; Harry Katsiginis, Albany, N.Y.; Thomas Petrou, Flint, Mich.; Spiros Kahriman, Lansing, Mich.; Thomas N. Catris, Utica, N.Y.; Harry Zahars, Elyria, Ohio; James G. Dikeou, Denver; Jean N. Blaetos and Chris Harvalis, Omaha; Thomas Kademenos, Yorkville, Ohio; John H. Stampolis, San Francisco; A. A. Ladas, Fresno, Cal.;
S. D. Christie, Los Angeles; Nicholas S. Chekos, Portland, Oregon; Charles Nicholas, Hopewell, Va.; William E. Contos, Washington, Pennsylvania; George Spiridakis, Indiana Harbor, Ind.; John J. Pappas, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; G. Pappas, Bridgeton, N.J.; John Vouvakis, Detroit; Anton G. Kochias and James L. Lesson, Beloit, Wisconsin; P. S. Marthakis, Salt Lake City, Utah; Alex Keriakedes, Lincoln, Nebraska; James Camaras, Grand Island, Nebraska; Claibourne G. Perry, Bridgeport, Nebraska; Harry Delucas, Atlantic City; James Bouloukos, Freeport, N.Y.; George Giaksas, Bronx, N.Y.; J. J. Zefkeles, Seattle; V. I. Chebithes, New York City; Andrew Katsinos, Springfield, Ill.; George A. Stephano, Sioux Falls, S. Dak.; George M. Paradise, Sioux City, la.; John D. Smith, Des Moines, la.
The convention officers elected were:
C. R. Nixon, Chairman; Const. A. Tsangadas, Vice Chairman; and Const. G. Economou, Secretary.
The convention decided that the unused monies collected for the Corinth Relief Fund, which were not needed at Corinth since the earthquake victims had all been taken care of, should be donated to the District of Corinth, Greece, for the erection of an Agricultural College. There was a surplus left in the Fund of about $36,000.00.
Other convention actions included:
To find proper ways and means of honoring the memory of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient George Dilboy; Voted $2,000 to assist disabled veterans of World War I; Study means to establish a "Greek Room" in the "Cathedral of Learning" at the University of Pittsburgh; Establish a $100,000 Educational Fund as a scholarship fund available for students of Hellenic descent; Establish a monthly "Ahepan Magazine."; · Adopted the revised Ahepa Ritual written by James Veras; Adopted the proposal of George C. Vournas to hold an Ahepa National Banquet in Washington, D.C. annually; Appoint a Committee to begin the establishment of Ahepa Chapters in Canada.
A major highlight of the 1928 Detroit Supreme Convention was the unveiling and dedication of the Ahepa Statue of General Demetrius Ypsilanti in the city of Ypsilanti, Michigan. The marble statue was presented to the city by the Ahepa with more than 3,000 area Ahepans present, with the main addresses at the ceremonies by Supreme President Alfange, and the Governor of Michigan.
In the book "The Story of Ypsilanti" which relates the history of that Michigan city, author Harvey C. Colburn writes:
Among the notable world events of the time (1820s) was the Greek Revolution. In the splendid struggle of the Greek people against Turkish tyranny, appeared an outstanding heroic figure, Demetrius Ypsilanti. With three hundred men he had held the Citadel of Argos for three days, against an army of 30,000. Then, having exhausted his provisions, he had escaped one night beyond the enemy lines, with his entire command, having lost not a single man. Such an exploit was calculated to touch the world's fancy, and in America the name of Demetrius Ypsilanti was lauded, while quantities of clothing and provisions were gathered for the destitute Greek people.
Judge Woodward proposed that the name of the new city be Ypsilanti -- and Ypsilanti it was. It was a wise providence that guided the good judge in his remarkable suggestion. The name stands quite aloof from commonplace city cognomens. It is a name of personality, of distinction, a name in which one may take pride, a name to be pronounced with emphasis and to be written with a flourish on hotel registers in distant places. In the city hall hangs a fitting portrait of the Greek general. The cause of human freedom is largely indebted to him, and besides, he left us a good name.
It was either in 1825 or 1826 that the residents of the community in Michigan decided unanimously to name their town "Ypsilanti, Michigan."
The bust was presented to the city by Supreme President Dean Alfange, on August 29, 1928. At noon all business houses, offices and city departments closed for a half holiday, and everyone gathered at the foot of a hill near Normal School, where the 12-foot bust of Ypsilanti was unveiled. A parade, with three bands, went through the city streets, to the site. The marble bust was unveiled by Sylvia May Burell, 10 year old daughter of Ray H. Burell, president of the Ypsilanti City Council, and Xenia Tender, daughter of Peter Tender, Ahepan of Lorain, Ohio. Addresses were made by Governor Green of Michigan, Mayor Matthew Max of Ypsilanti, Greek Consul G. Depastas of Chicago, and Herbert Thompson, past grand president of the I.0.0.F.
The bust shows General Ypsilanti in uniform and was the work of Christopher Natsos, Greek sculptor who sculptured the monument to the Unknown Soldier of Greece. It stands on a marble pedestal of Greek design, and is all of Pentelic marble, taken from the quarries -- that gave marble to the works on the Acropolis in Athens.
General Demetrius Ypsilanti was the grandson of Alexander Ypsilanti, potentate of Moldovlachia, today Rumania, but then a territory under the sovereignty of Turkey and the guardianship of Russia. Alexander Ypsilanti worked constantly for the liberation of Greece, then under Turkish rule, knowing that his actions might prove costly to his throne and life, and he was eventually beheaded by the Sultan. Constantine Ypsilanti, the father of Demetrius, was also potentate of Moldovlachia, and also worked for the liberation of Christian lands from the Turks. He fled to Russia to escape Turkish vengeance, with his wife, daughter and sons, Alexander, Demetrius, George and Gregory, where the sons all received military training.
When the time was ready for the declaration of Greek Independence, the Ypsilanti brothers volunteered their services to Greece. Alexander became Commander-in-chief of the movement, and Demetrius went to the Peloponnesus in Greece to take command of the revolution there.
The Detroit convention elected the following Supreme Lodge:
Dean Alfange, re-elected to the office of Supreme President;
George E. Phillies, re-elected Supreme Vice President;
Achilles Catsonis, re-elected Supreme Secretary;
John Govatos, Supreme Treasurer;
C. A. Tsangadas, Supreme Counsellor;
And the following Supreme Governors: Elias Janetis, James Veras, Philip D. Peppas, George C. Vournas, George S. Smitzes; C. R. Nixon, Peter G. Sikokis, Alexander Petrellis Perry, P. S. Marthakis, and George C. Peterson.
Kansas City, Missouri was chosen as the site of the 1929 Supreme Convention. During the fiscal year of 1928-29, the Ahepa established 48 new Chapters, and initiated 5,712 new members.
During the year, the Supreme Lodge turned over $39,618.20 to the Trustees for the Agricultural College to be built in Corinth, Greece, and $3,200.05 to the Greek War Orphans. The Supreme Lodge, under the direction of Supreme President Dean Alfange, continued active work in the field, sent representatives to Chapter dinners and initiations, and activity throughout the fraternity continued on its usual high plane.
An interesting "Stock Tip" was published in The Ahepa Bulletin that year written by Past Supreme Governor Constantine Theodorow, which read:
You may have never dealt in stock and bonds. You may have never had the thrill of watching your stock climb up or the irregularity of your pulse on watching it decline. It makes no difference. Just make it your business to follow the stock that I am going to recommend. If you haven't any, go buy some. If you own some, hold on to it. Buy some more if you can. Recommend it to your friends who are qualified to buy. This stock has been going up since it was thrown on the market and there is no danger of it going down. You can always afford to be bullish on this stock. If you are short you will certainly regret it. The stock I am talking about is the Ahepa stock.
Its cardinal assets are brotherly love, affection and good citizenship. It has no debts or encumbrances of any kind. It pays dividends regularly, even to those who are not stockholders. It is a long pull investment for the future. It is replete with interesting possibilities, for no one can tell how high it may go. It is already listed in over 200 cities in 44 States of the Union. For further information on this investment apply ORDER OF AHEPA, 1140 Investment Building, Washington, D.C.
The Fall River, Mass. Ahepa float won second prize in the city's Armistice Day parade … . Prof. Michael Dorizas of the University of Pennsylvania lectured at the Washington, D.C. Chapter #31 educational program series, and this Ahepan was also featured in an article in The American Magazine which gave an account of his world travels to almost every country in the world.
The Parthenon Marbles
Brother William Kimberly Palmer of Springfield, Massachusetts, had his Letter to the Editor on this subject published in the Springfield Union:
I read in an English journal that Sir Joseph Duveen offers the British government a dignified setting for the Parthenon Marbles that were rifled from Greece by Lord Elgin, that illustrious despoiler of the land of Socrates, Plato, and Pericles. I suggest to the British government and Sir Joseph Duveen that the marbles be restored to their original setting in the Parthenon at Athens, where they properly belong. No act of the German government in seizing art treasures in France during the World War was so atrocious as the taking of the Elgin Marbles to England by Lord Elgin, with the consent and aid of the British government. The statue of the Venus de Milo in the Louvre in Paris also should be restored to Greece, and that without delay. Great Britain and France had no reason to cry out against German spoilation, while they held on to art treasures that were wrested from a nation struggling for its freedom and unable to cope with such opponents. Let those treasures be restored. Then would the spirit of Lord Byron, who denounced such spoilation, be at peace and justice done to Greece, whose glory is eternal.
Yorkville, Ohio Chapter raised and donated $1,000.00 to its local Greek school. … Lawrence, Mass. Ahepans played Santa Claus to children of the community … . Professor Milonas of Johns Hopkins University lectured at a Baltimore, Md. Ahepa meeting … . Governor Christianson of Minnesota was the featured speaker at the Minneapolis, Minn. Ahepa dinner … . The eight New York City area Chapters banded together to form an Inter-Chapter Cooperative Council to coordinate Ahepa affairs in the area … . Cleveland, Los Angeles, Akron, Buffalo, and Detroit Ahepa Chapters doubled their quota of $1,000 each for the Ahepa Scholarship Loan Drive.
March 4, 1929 Inaugural Parade in Washington
On March 4, 1929, a corps of Ahepans marched in the Presidential Inaugural Parade at Washington, D.C., following the inauguration of President Herbert Hoover. This was a "first" for any Greek organization in America, and Ahepa was the only organization of its kind given the privilege of participating in the parade, along with the American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, and other patriotic groups.
The Ahepa marchers were: James Koliopulos, A. B. Nicol, J. Paul Smith, John N. Collas, John P. Callas, Mike Sallas, John Nacopoulos, John Stamatakos, Thomas Phiopilis, George Papoutsis, Mike Procopiou, James Pananes, William Geckas, James Touloumis, C. H. Contos, Brother Mantis, Peter L. Dounis, Dr. Charles J. Demas, George H. Chaconas, Nick Manos, Nicholas Sakelos, Costas Paxenos, S. Kapiris, G: S. Andoniades, Themistocles N. Gounaris, Harry D. Nicholson, George Theodorou, Louis Lampros, George Katsaros, George G. Gouvas.
On February 18 of that year, Brother Ahepan Karzas' magnificent Trianon Ballroom in Chicago was the scene of the installation of officers of the eight Chicago Chapters. About 8,000 people, in evening dress, watched the impressive ceremonies as Supreme President Alfange installed the chapters' officers, and dancing followed the ceremony.
Allentown, Pennsylvania Chapter offered $200 in prizes for the four best essays on the subject "Hellenic Contributions to Civilization" which Milton Scouris proposed, and acted as Chairman of the Committee. The Supreme Lodge encouraged other Ahepa Chapters to follow the example of the Allentown Chapter by sponsoring like contests in their own localities. Commenting on the Allentown essay project, President Heath of Moravian Seminary and College for Women of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said:
In our machine-controlled civilization it is important that we do not lose our idealisms, and for these we must turn time and again to certain of the Hellenic philosophers and especially to Plato. Utility has its place in every modern system but it so easily becomes not only unattractive but even repellent unless it is wedded to that artistic spirit, form and expression which Greece exhibited in the Periclean and other ages. It is impossible to exaggerate the value of the deft manner in which the profoundest problems of life and destiny are presented by Hellenic tragedians. Next to the sublime messages of the Hebrew prophets the civilized world needs to cherish the contribution, elemental and comprehensive but also delicate and subtle, which has come to us from the artists, philosophers, historians, commanders and literary geniuses of ancient Greece. Any effort which will impress upon our college youth their indebtedness to the glory of this great past is heartily to be commended and encouraged.
Supreme Lodge Photographed with President Calvin Coolidge
On February 4, 1929, the Ahepa Supreme Lodge visited President Calvin Coolidge at the White House in Washington, D.C., and then the President graciously walked out onto the White House lawn, where he was photographed with the entire Supreme Lodge.
Coming to the White House on this blustery day they found in President Coolidge a person fascinated by the work of AHEPA and the Greek people. His interest in the culture and contributions of Greece in this United States was not merely academic, but was practical and genuine.
The First Ahepa National Banquet
Two days later, on February 6, 1929, the Order of Ahepa held its first Ahepa National Banquet, honoring the Congress of the United States. Supreme Governor George C. Vournas of Washington, D.C., was Chairman, and was also the proponent of the idea of such an event, which has become a permanent part of Ahepa's programs. Today, the National Banquet is held as a biennial event, every two years, in Washington, D.C.
The Ahepa Bulletin of February, 1929 describes the event as follows:
The National Banquet held in Washington on February 6, 1929, will go down in the fraternity's history as one of the outstanding accomplishments of the fraternity. Needless to say, it will have the distinction of being the most important Ahepa function of the year.
On that occasion seventy-five members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, together with two-score of prominent journalists of national reputation, Governors, ex-Governors, governmental Department heads, and other prominent visitors, assembled at the Hotel Willard that night-the occasion of our first national banquet to do honor to the Ahepa It was one of the most brilliant gatherings of the Nation's leaders which Washington had ever witnessed. To quote the words of a United States Senator who was present, 'There were never so many Senators and Representatives of different political faiths sitting together at the same table at the invitation of a third party.'
"The Supreme President (Alfange) in making the principal address of the evening, touched upon the significance of the occasion when he said, 'This affair tonight, brings to us an Ahepa climax -- a rich fulfillment of our hopes and our aspirations.' And these words were true for that night it might be said that the United States of America was officially honoring the Ahepa -- giving to it official recognition for its long period of faithful service and imparting to it encouragement to carry on the great work that it is propounding.
The presence alone of these eminent men would be an ample testimonial of their recognition. But the hour of real significance began when Supreme Governor George C. Vournas, Chairman of the National Banquet Committee and originator of the idea, arose and introduced that great Philhellene, United States Senator William H. King as the toastmaster of the evening. Before assuming his function as toastmaster, Senator King delivered an eloquent oration in which he lauded America's citizens of Hellenic extraction and signalled the Ahepa as the outstanding patriotic organization of the United States which is sponsored by citizens of foreign descent. In closing, the Senator expressed to his colleagues and to all those present the hope that other peoples would grasp the example set by the Ahepa in its efforts to promote constructive citizenship and a better understanding of the Government and the institutions of the land. The Supreme President, who was the first speaker, explained in his oration the principles and mission of the Order, and was followed by His Excellency, the Minister of Greece, Mr. Simopoulos. Mr. Simopoulos spoke splendidly in both the English and Greek languages. The concluding speech was delivered by Hon. Theodore G. Risley, Solicitor for the Department of Labor. Mr. Risley profusely praised Ahepa and the cooperation which it is giving to the United States Government.
Space would not permit the printing of the names of all guests present. The list, however, included the following United States Senators: Reed of Missouri; Bayard and Hastings of Delaware; Dill of Washington; George of Georgia; Neely of West Virginia; Pittman of Nevada; Robinson of Indiana; Smith of South Carolina; Walsh of Massachusetts; Trammel of Florida, and many others. Expressing our thoughts editorially, we wonder whether this great honor could come to the Order of Ahepa if it followed principles and policies other than the ones which it has been defining and expounding for the past six years. This was the first time that any organization composed of American citizens of foreign descent -- regardless of their nationality -- ever received such an honor from the outstanding representatives of the United States Government.
Two days before the banquet the representatives of the Supreme Lodge were officially received by the then Chief Executive of the United States, President Calvin Coolidge. After the reception, the President graciously consented to be photographed with the high council of the Ahepa Again, this was the first time that such an honor had been extended to an organization of the scope and nature of the Ahepa
On the occasion of the inaugural parade of March 4 for President Herbert Hoover, Ahepa was again honored when it was invited to participate in that great national institutional event of the United States. Upon accepting, the inaugural committee gave the Ahepa a place of honor in the division of patriotic organizations, placing it in the same group with the Sons of the American Revolution and the Union Veterans and Confederates of the Civil War. Again we ask the question, 'Could Ahepa and incidentally America's Hellenism receive such a recognition -- could Ahepa acquire the influence and prestige which it now holds -- if it did not so courageously adhere to the principles which were injected into its Constitution on the very day of its founding?' Ahepa has realized its goal and is destined to perform even a greater mission because it operates as a loyal, patriotic American organization-because it is NON-POLITICAL and NON-SECTARIAN. In this way it serves loyally the United States, the land of our adoption, and in so doing it aids most efficiently all of America's citizens of Hellenic origin.
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Sixteen Ahepa Scholarships were granted during the year to: Nicholas K. Matsoukas, Chicago; George J. Blaetus, Omaha; James A, Mitchell, Pittsburgh; Constantine Gatsos, Cleveland; D. Daniel Pananicles, Syracuse; John Leacacos, Cambridge; John Rodites, Brooklyn; Peter Kourides, Manchester; C. S. Stephanides, Ithaca; E. Athanasiades, Worcester; D. Diamandides, Springfield; George E. Loucas, Weirton; S. S. Aridas, Newark; George Phalares, Chicago; C. Orphanides, Worcester; August Pantages, Aberdeen, Wash.
American Legion Commander Kriz of Nebraska commended Ahepans at Grand Island, Nebraska on their citizenship program … . Virginia Attorney General Saunders, Richmond Mayor Bright spoke to 500 at the Richmond, Va. chapter installations … In Cheyenne, Wyoming Governor Emerson, Cheyenne Mayor Riner, Congressman Carter, Editor Thompson, and others attended the dinner establishing the Cheyenne Ahepa Chapter.
The Ahepa Magazine
The first issue of "The Ahepa" magazine was published in May, 1929 and the first Editor was Milton E. Meletiades. The masthead described it as: "The Ahepa, Illustrated National Monthly Magazine, the Official Organ of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, Vol. III, May, 1929, Number 1." It was dedicated to President Herbert Hoover, and the President's photograph was on the cover.
The issue listed the location of the then 220 Chapters of the Ahepa, and carried several articles, editorials and news of the Chapter activities. U.S. Representative C. E. Hancock (New York) was present at the Ahepa National Banquet in February, and he said of the Ahepa: "The Ahepa seeks to 'revive and marshal into active service for America the noblest attributes and highest ideals of true Hellenism.' It seems to me that these words from the Constitution of the Ahepa are indicative of the spirit that animates it -- the sincere desire of a proud people to give the best of the land of their forefathers to the country of their adoption. No American with any knowledge of the Ahepa can fail to admire and applaud the high-mindedness of the men who conceived the principles of the Ahepa and whose patriotic zeal has brought it to a place of power and prestige."
U.S. Senator William H. King (Utah) who served as toastmaster of the National Banquet, was described in the magazine as "Eminent Philhellene and Spiritual Father of the Order of Ahepa" under his full page photograph. Senator King's remarks at the banquet were also reprinted in full.
Governor of the State of Michigan, Fred W. Green, a member of the Detroit Ahepa Chapter wrote:
At a time when there is some tendency to take the responsibility of citizenship lightly, it is well that there should be among us an organization like the Ahepa, dedicated to preserving those fundamental virtues of good government. Those that come here from other countries bent on throwing overboard all the traditions of their people through a mistaken notion that their Americanization will be hastened by such foolishness do no service to themselves or to this nation. There are things in the heritage of every people that should be preserved and emphasized here in America. In the heritage of no people is there a greater wealth of wisdom for America than in the traditions and history of Greece. I can think of no higher purpose for any American organization than the preservation and dissemination of that heritage among our people, and America is fortunate in having a society such as the Ahepa and I am proud to be among its members.
In reference to the Objects and Principles of the Order of Ahepa, the Binghamton, N. Y. Sun editorialized:
Reading of these Objects make it easy to understand why the Greeks have won, in comparatively few years, a warm place in the regard of those of older and more established citizenship. Here is a fine set of rules for any organization to pattern after. They are not mere words because the Greek-American lives with them and practices them in his everyday dealings with others. They are proud of the fine traditions brought with them from their native land, but they are more proud of America and of the city of their adoption. The city, in return, may well be proud of them.
The St. Louis Star said: "Perhaps the most notable movement in this country among people of foreign birth is that of the Ahepa among Greek-born residents." And the Chicago Daily News wrote:
The influence of The Ahepa already has made itself felt in the Greek community life in every part of the country where there is a Chapter of the Order. Ten years ago few, if any, Greeks in the United States were interested in any movement which had for its object the banding together of the Hellenic race in this country. They then were not certain that this would be their permanent home. Since the war this had changed. They are fast becoming American citizens; are acquiring American culture; are establishing homes and businesses and are rearing their children to be real Americans.
The magazine reported that the $100,000 Scholarship Loan Fund had reached pledges totaling $34,500 by May, 1929.
The Second Annual Excursion to Greece
On board the S. S. Vulcania, the Second Annual Excursion to Greece in 1929 was another successful project under the leadership of Commander Elias J anetis, Philip Stylianos, James Veras, Andrew Nickas and C. R. Nixon. They were received at Piraeus and at Athens by representatives of the government, business, and press, a large parade was held through the streets of Athens, and Premier Eleutherios Venizelos was host at a banquet in honor of the Ahepans, and he thanked the Ahepa for its pioneer work in fostering good international relations between the people of the United States and Greece.
The eight New York City chapters celebrated Greek Independence Day on March 25th at Mecca Temple, with 4,000 people present, an overflow crowd … . Chief naturalization examiners in various parts of the country added some new questions in examining applicants of Greek descent for American citizenship by inquiring if the applicant was a member of the Ahepa If the answer was "No" this was followed by another question: "Why not?" The New Jersey examiners went a step further by asking if the Ahepa members could give the names of their national officers, and the names of their local Chapter officers .
… San Francisco Chapter donated an extensive number of books on the subject of ancient and modern Greece to the local library … . Mayor Tulley of New Haven, Conn., and Yale University heads attended the local Ahepa meeting … . Springfield, Ill., Ahepans placed a wreath at the tomb of President Lincoln.
United States Senator George Higgins Moses (New Hampshire) wished Ahepa well on its Scholarship Loan Fund -- "To these efforts and to all the purposes which Ahepa espouses I wish to add the sympathetic cooperation of a real Philhellene."
In an article entitled "The Greeks are Patriotic People" Solicitor Theodore G. Risley of the United States Department of Labor wrote:
There are probably people of no nationality who are more thoroughly informed about the history of their country and more thoroughly steeped in its lessons than the Greeks. They not only teach it in their homes and drum it into their school children, but their newspapers constantly proclaim it and their literature is saturated with it. I believe it is from this source of inspiration that the splendid objects of the Order of Ahepa with its fundamental principles of loyalty to the Hellenic race and to its adopted country originated.
… Every Greek, as soon as he gets to the United States, has an ambition to establish a business of his own, although he may have to undergo years of patient labor before he achieves his object. It is indeed a rare thing for a Greek to become a public charge. The immigrants who come to the United States now have to pass a very rigid examination consisting of about forty-two questions in all. When an immigrant has passed this test and has been admitted to this country as his permanent home, it is as much our duty as it is to his interest to acquaint him with our habits and modes of life and political institutions, and to see that he is placed in a wholesome environment, one in which influences will surround him that will inculcate in his mind and heart a spirit of love and loyalty to his adopted country. The immigrant should first learn to speak and read the English language, because it is the only medium through which he can ever acquire a real conception of American ideals and an understanding of our political and domestic institutions. If the immigrant is made to feel that he is welcome to our country and that our people have an interest in_him he will reciprocate that feeling. He will feel that he is appreciated and that somebody cares for him and that the fact that he was born in a foreign land shall not be a barrier to his privileges or a handicap to his children, and from this realization there will naturally grow upon him a feeling of attachment for his new home.
The Allentown, Pennsylvania essay contest on the subject "Hellenic Contributions to Civilization" was won by Dudley L. Harley of Lehigh University … . Green River, Wyoming Chapter held its first annual banquet, with addresses by Senator D. A. Preston, George Strike, Attorney General Muir, and other civic leaders … . New Orleans, Colorado Springs, Newark, N.J., Weirton, W. Va., Seattle, Los Angeles, New Britain, Conn., Kalamazoo, Mich., Walsenburg, Colo., all reported outstanding dinners and banquets, with top officials present from their city and state governments … . Hagerstown, Md., featured their initiation ceremonies with a parade of Ahepails through the city, headed by the American Legion Drum Corps … . Salt Lake City Chapter sponsored its own radio broadcast on the subject of Ahepa by N.J. Cotromanes … . Chicago No. 46 had its own Mandolin Orchestra which gave concerts twice a year … Chicago No. 93 initiated its 400th member of the chapter. … Mayor McDonald of Dayton, Ohio called Ahepa's work "constructive citizenship of the very highest type." … Dr. George F. Hale of Detroit said:
If I should be given the task of renaming the Order of Ahepa, I could think of no more appropriate title than that of Friend of Humanity. The Greek turned his face toward a western sun and shaped his course to the new country beyond the sea, there to make his home. He brought with him aspirations. He brought with him ideals, he brought faith in his fellow men and by his long Christian training he held fast to that trust in God, a trust which carried his ancestors through the darkest pages of the history of civilization, and when he landed on the shores of his new home he placed upon its altars, intelligence, art, a clean blood and a willingness to make real the aspirations and useful the ideals as a good citizen. Hospitality, generosity, patriotism are his by right of suffering. He knows full well the hardships, civil and domestic. He has tasted of the bitter cup; therefore, he knows the better how to serve his fellow man and so, my brothers, while men consecrate their lives to a greater endeavor and pledge more usefulness to society it is not strange that this rapid growing institution, known throughout the world as Ahepa, is experiencing such phenomenal growth.
In commenting on the effects of the first two Ahepa Excursions to Greece, The Ahepa magazine wisely noted:
The idea of the annual excursions to Greece, as sponsored by the Order of Ahepa, will have a tremendous effect on the government and people of Greece to realize and eventually exploit advantageously th~ vast and lucrative tourist trade, which, in view of the marvelous and majestic scenic beauties and the incomparable treasures of historic antiquities in Greece, should easily attract the tourists. Since the first Ahepa Excursion to Greece, almost two years ago, the Greek Government is carefully studying the subject of the tourist trade, which unquestionably, after proper cultivation through efficient advertising campaigns carried out in all the countries of Europe and particularly the United States of America, and the preparation of adequate accommodations, shall prove a source of enormous revenue and of an incalculable benefit to the country. Ahepa may well feel proud of this fact and claim the credit for stimulating this resourceful enterprise in Greece, the importance of which can not be questioned.
The Portland, Maine Press Herald editorialized:
It is surprising how many Greeks are found occupying prominent places in the business world and how readily they respond to the appeals of this organization (Ahepa). The representatives of the Hellenic race in the United States are proud of their origin and delight in recalling the history of their own country, but, if we may judge from the activities of the Ahepa as related in its magazine, they are even more proud of rearing their children as American citizens and inspiring them with love and loyalty to their new Country.
The Canton, Ohio Evening Repository (May 29, 1929):
America owes a debt to Greece, a debt which she can pay with benefit to herself by welcoming the descendants of those philosophers, artists and statesmen on whom the world still depends for its cultural tradition. These children from the cradle of culture have emigrated from their motherland to seek the advantages of a virgin country and America has welcomed them. Who knows but that in the times to come they will instill into the stream of American culture some of those qualities which have made their race one of the most important forces in the civilization of the world? They owe a debt to the glory of their fathers and they have chosen to pay it in America, the land which embodies the principles of the great men that made Greece.
A squadron of airplanes, led by pilot George Zarkos, escorted a large procession of Ahepans through the streets of Bakersfield, California Upon the institution of that Ahepa Chapter. Besides the parade, there was a special church service, and banquet. … Dayton, Ohio, Youngstown, Ohio, Kokomo, Ind., Ventura, California, Oakland, California all reported grand halls, dinners, initiations … . Wichita, Kansas, developed a drill patrol of 24 members with Louis Gochis as Captain, and Alex Leber as Sergeant. … San Francisco held a dance and theatrical performance with all proceeds for the benefit of San Francisco Greek schools … . Binghamton, N.Y. Ahepa Patrol won first prize in the Memorial Day parade … . The Ahepa prescribed summer dress for members and patrols was then a neat red, white and blue uniform-white shirt and trousers, red sash about the waist, white shoes, blue tie, and red Ahepa fez … . Minneapolis, Minn. Chapter was host at a reception in the Mayor's reception rooms at the courthouse to 89 newly naturalized American citizens, with musical entertainment and dinner, and an "Ahepa welcome" to the new citizens … . Atlanta, Ga. Chapter #1 installed its officers before 1,000 people in Taft Hall of the Auditorium-Armory … . Lawrence, Mass. presented Brother Angel Alex's play "Hearts that Break," with all proceeds going to the New Building Fund of the local Greek church … . Portsmouth-Dover, N.H., New Haven, Conn., Lewiston, Me., Casper, Wyoming, reported outstanding installations and banquets … . Price, Utah gave a benefit affair for the local Greek schools … Lancaster, Pennsylvania held a dance with all proceeds going to help pay off the mortgage on the local Greek Church.
Princess Aspasia of Greece, widow of the late King Alexander of Greece, visited Palm Beach, Fla., and was greeted by the Mayor and a group of Ahepans. The West Palm Beach Ahepa Chapter then tendered a banquet in the Princess' honor. On her departure from Palm Beach, the Princess addressed a note to Brother Nicholas D. Chotas, Mother Lodge Member of Ahepa, who was visiting in Palm Beach, which read: "I wish to thank you and the members of the Order of Ahepa for the kind welcome given me here. It touches me deeply. My happiest afternoon in Palm Beach was passed in your midst." The note was accompanied by a five hundred dollar bill in U.S. currency -- "A little contribution to the work of Ahepa" the Princess wrote.
In August, 1929, the magazine reported that the pledges to the Ahepa Scholarship Loan Fund has reached $78,000.00.
The Order of Sons of Pericles
After the adoption of the Order of Sons of Pericles as the Junior Order of Ahepa by the Detroit Convention, Chapters of the Junior Order were established in Weirton, W. Va.; Wheeling, Va. Va.; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Youngstown, Ohio; Woburn, Mass.; Brookline, Mass.; San Francisco, Calif; Stamford, Conn.; Worcester, Mass.; Reading, Pennsylvania; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cincinnati, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; and work was underway for the establishment of Sons Chapters in Houston, Seattle, Warren, Ohio; Canton, Ohio; Denver, New Brunswick, N.J.; Paterson, N.J.; St. Louis; Atlanta; Portsmouth, N.Y., and Charleston, S.C. Sons of Pericles Supreme Secretary Stephen S. Scopas reported that there were now 40 chapters.
Meanwhile, Ahepa Chapters continued their activity, with a District meeting in Wheeling, W. Va. at which Congressman Bachmann was principal speaker, and more than $2,000 raised for the scholarship fund … . Buffalo, N.Y. established its Ahepa Patrol. … Mayor Rath of Utica, N.Y. spoke at the Ahepa annual outing … . Outings were held by Wilmington, Del., Muncie, Ind., Lewiston, Me., Middletown, Ohio, Ogden, Utah … . Lynchburg, Va. started special Ahepa classes for the teaching of the English language for members … . Senator Robinson and Mayor Slack spoke at institution of the Indianapolis, Ind., chapter.
… Mayor Flint of Freeport, N.Y. extended greetings to Ahepans at the annual entertainment and dance … . Ahepa received congratulations on its objects and principles from Illinois Governor Emmerson, Arizona Governor Phillips, Utah Governor Dern, New Mexico Governor Dillon, Delaware Governor Buck, Maine Governor Gardiner, Minnesota Governor Christiansen, Wisconsin Governor Kohler, Oregon Governor Patterson; from U.S. Senators Dill, Wagner (N. Y.), Capper (Kansas), Burton (Ohio), Allen (Kansas), as well as from several Congressmen.
© Copyright Order of AHEPA
George J. Leber's book is copyright protected. However, any portions of this book may be quoted at length, provided that proper credit & acknowledgement is given to the book, author, publisher, and pages.
Leber, George J. History of the Order of AHEPA 1922 - 1972. Washigton DC, Order of AHEPA, 1972.