On Saturday May 21st, at the remains of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, the Ministry of National Defence organized a unique Tribute Event to Commemorate the Genocide of Pontian Greeks and Armenians. Despite adverse weather conditions, people gathered once more to honor the 97th anniversary of the Genocide. Present during that night were members of the political leadership and the Armed Forces, including Panos Kammenos, Minister of National Defence, and Vasileios Tellidis, Chief of Staff. The Hellenic Air Force Band welcomed spectators. Alexis Kostalas hosted the Tribute, while actors Yannis Stankoglou and Vicky Papadopoulou narrated throughout the event.
During the evening, honorary plaques were awarded to the Pontian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin – Grammatikopoulos, the Pontian grandmother Elisavet Alexandridou, the Vice President of the Armenian Parliament Eduard Sharmazanov, the President of the International Confederation of Pontian Greeks Mr. Yorgos Parcharidis, the professor of history at the University of Western Macedonia Mr. Konstantinos Fotiadis, Mr. Yorgos Tsalouchidis, the Pontian soprano Sonia Theodoridou, the Armenian National Committee, the Pan-Pontian Federation of Greece, and the Pontian Paralympic medalist Grigoris Polychronidis. Pontian and Armenian dances, performed by dance groups, in combination with happenings and narrations, provided the best possible account of the tragic history of both Pontians and Armenians. Among the most touching points of the evening were a Pontian folk song performed by Chrysivaya Vellisarakou, a young singer, and soprano Sonia Theodoridou, the dance of knifes performed by young dancers Artemis Georgiou and Yorgos Kallifatidis, and also the appearance of Antonis Kalogiannis on stage, who, accompanied by his granddaughter Anastasia, sung “O Sun of Justice in the Mind” (Tes Dikaiosynes Helie Nohete), the famous composition of Mikis Theodorakis. Next was Serra, the famous Pontian dance, performed by 18 dancers, whose passion and vigor excited the crowd. The evening was concluded with the national anthems of Greece and Armenia.
What we must always preserve in our memory is our motto: “We remember, we honor, we endure…”
words & photos ©Giannis Efremidis