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Utah’s Greeks to Mark Greece’s Independence Day by Presenting the State Commemorative Flag from Athens
The Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake and Utah’s Hellenic Cultural Association will observe the 200th anniversary of Greece’s independence from Turkey in a nationally significant manner. According to George Karahalios, president of the church’s parish council, the church and the historical preservation group (HCA) will present the state of Utah a Greek flag that recently was flown atop the flagpole at the iconic Acropolis in Athens, site of a similar ceremony held there March 25, 1821 when Greece declared its freedom from 400 years of Ottoman (Turkish) rule.
The gift to the state came from the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. It was accompanied by a letter from the public relations director for the president, Maya Solomou, who wrote: “President Sakellaropoulou would like to compliment the Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake and the Hellenic Cultural Association of Utah on their project to observe the bicentennial anniversary of the independence of Greece, which constitutes an event of major significance.” Also accompanying the flag was a letter issued by the Commander of Greece’s Presidential Guard certifying the banner was raised on the pole at the Acropolis. Photos of the flag-flying ceremony there also were included.
According to Karahalios, the presentation of the commemorative flag to the people of Utah – likely the only one like it in the country – will be one of several commemorative events planned by the Salt Lake area Greek community to observe Greece’s bicentennial.
Karahalios notes that the idea to present Utah with a unique commemorative flag from Athens was generated by HCA board member Mike Korologos. The American Hellenic Institute, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy organization specializing in U.S.-Greece and U.S.- Cyprus relations as well as the Hellenic-American Community, through its president and chief executive officer Nick Larigakis, handled the logistics. A duplicate flag also flown atop the pole at the Acropolis will be on display at the HCA museum at the lower level of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Salt Lake City.
Jeannine Pappas Timothy, president of the HCA of Utah, says the flag displays on the lawns at Salt Lake City’s two churches “will pay tribute to the courage and foresight of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who toiled in the region’s coal, copper and silver mines and on the railroads, and established businesses, built a church in downtown Salt Lake City in 1905 and otherwise set roots in Utah 125 years ago.” She adds that the flags also serve to acknowledge the influence of the Greeks of today on Utah’s cultural, civic, business, educational, religious, legal and political landscapes.
“With the incredibly significant flag gift to the state of Utah – and with the expansive displays of Greek flags at other venues — we will be proudly displaying our patriotic pride and close affiliation with the Motherland as well as all of Utah,” says Karahalios. “We want to show Greece we are with its citizens in spirit, if not in person, as they observe this significant date in their history — their 200th anniversary of freedom.”