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Alderman Ducson Nguyen of Ithaca’s 2nd Ward reads the official City of Ithaca Proclamation commemorating the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day to the congregation at St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Downtown Ithaca this past Sunday, March 28th, as Nick Lambrou (left), president of the parish council, and Rev. Stephen Gousios (right) look on.

In line with President Biden, several governors and a number of mayors across the country, Ithaca’s City Council also marked the bicentennial of Greek Independence with an official City of Ithaca proclamation this past March 25th.

Alderman Ducson Nguyen of Ithaca’s 2nd Ward presented the members of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church – located in the city’s 2nd Ward – with the proclamation during a brief program held after services this past Sunday, March 28th, noting the challenge of celebrating such an event under current pandemic circumstances.

“We’re so glad you continue observing this important day despite the ongoing public health crisis, and we’re very happy to support your efforts in maintaining your traditions. You have every right to be proud of your cultural heritage,” he said.

A small group of Greek American children – students of St. Catherine’s Greek school – dressed in traditional costumes reflecting the customary garb of that period in Greece’s history. They recited a traditional poem and sang the Greek National Anthem.

“It’s so impressive that young Greek American kids still speak Greek today, even after several generations since their forebears first came to this country,” said Mr. Nguyen, who is himself of Vietnamese heritage.

Modern Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire on March 25, 1821 after more than 400 years of slavery under their Turkish overlords, who often compelled their subjects under torture and pain of death to embrace Islam. The Greeks refused to relinquish their Christian faith and symbolically chose the 25th of March, the Christian feast of the Annunciation, as the day to announce their intention to liberate themselves from their oppressors, gaining their freedom after more than eight years of bloody revolution against a larger, more powerful foe.

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