200 Years of Freedom and Victory

Today, March 25, 2021, is the bicentennial of Greek Independence after 400 years of Ottoman rule. Social media and websites are flooded with commemorative photos, stories and events to mark this historic and meaningful day. I am celebrating by honoring men in my ancestral families who received Aristeia awards for their service in the Revolution, and by sharing some resources that are especially meaningful to me.

Tracing Freedom: 1821 – The Revolution of 1821 and its impact on your ancestors. My friend and teacher, Giannis Michalakakos, has written this outstanding article which describes conditions during the Revolution and helps us visualize and understand how our ancestors survived this historic yet difficult time. A shortened version of Giannis’ full article has been published today on the GreekAncestry website. Giannis explains the complexities of this period: 

The echo of the Greek Revolution of 1821 was extensive and complicated. Movements, disasters, and changes were created, depending on the prevailing conditions. Each family acted differently, according to its geographic location and economic power. So despite the overall picture, we must be careful. We must study every case separately because each family has followed its own path in history. Only then we will touch the truth.

Photography Exhibit 1821
Elias Pergantis is an extraordinary photographer. He has created a series of photographs depicting scenes from the Revolution that is currently on display in Sparta and will then be taken throughout Greece. His works of art have been captured in this poignant video which moves me to tears.

Honoring My Ancestors
My Spartan Roots post of March 25, 2020 describes the various Aristeia awards received by those who fought with distinction in the Revolution, and has photos of the medals. Today, I honor these men in my ancestral family who have been identified to date as receiving an Aristeia. Many others would have fought without recognition:

  • Mihail Aridakos / Aridas of Agios Ioannis
  • Efstratios and Dimitrios Iliopoulos of Agios Ioannis
  • Christos Kostakos of Anavryti
  • Georgios Christakos of Agios Ioannis
  • Christos Lerikos of Agios Ioannis
  • Dimitrios, Vasileios and Nikolaos Maltziniotis of Agios Ioannis
  • Kalogeros Papagiannakos of Agios Ioannis
  • Ioannis Zacharakis of Sellasia/Theologos
  • Dimitrios, Ioannis and Georgios Zarafonitis of Sklavohori

This post from January 2016 honors Ioannis Zacharakis, one of my ancestors from Theologos, Sellasia. The documents signed on August 4, 1840 in Mystras state that he fought under the mighty Maniate captain, Georgios Giatrakos, and participated in many battles including: Valtetsi, Doliana, Tripoli, Naplion, Argos, and New Kastorio Pylos. I am thrilled to have not only his name, but also copies of the letters which are published in the post and have his signature!

Signature of Ioannis Zacharakis of Theologos, Sellasia about 1840

Celebrations in Athens
What celebration of freedom could be complete without a military parade? This is a video of today’s events in Athens. With Covid-19 precautions in place, soldiers are masked and crowds are forbidden, but the spirit of Greek independence is palpable and inspiring.  Χρόνια πολλά σε όλους τους Έλληνες!

Greek Ancestry Party!
A bicentennial event needs a party! Today, our friends at Greek Ancestry hosted a party which was recorded and is viewable here.  We shared stories, photos and histories to commemorate this special day. Ζήτω η Ελλάδα!!!


U.S. President Joe Biden’s Video Message for the Bicentennial

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