WARREN - With blue-and-white striped flags waving in the wind, local Greek Americans and others celebrated the annual Greek Independence Day with a Sunday afternoon parade. They marched from St. Demetrios Church, 429 High St. N.E., to City Hall, 391 Mahoning Ave. N.W.
During a program at City Hall, the Greek flag was raised, and participants shared messages of the importance of the holiday for the nation of Greece. The date is celebrated with parades in both Greece and the United States.
Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos, speaking from City Hall's front porch, said the historic date of March 25, 1821, marks the start of Greek independence.
''There are many things to be discussed today, noting what Greeks have done and contributed throughout their rich history,'' Kontos said. ''There is a lot more importance to this date than just what we read in the history books. There are many contributions of the past which are a living part of today.
''Look all around. On our route to come here from the church, we passed buildings with columns all part of the different Greek architecture. If you go to any state capitol or any government building or museum throughout this country, you see the architecture that was derived from Greece that is still alive today,'' Kontos said.
He said the Greek language is strong, with many words used in the English language that have a Greek derivation, especially in the arts and sciences.
Tasso Anastasiades, 6, of Howland, holding a flag, listens to the speakers at Warren City Hall. Children waved flags along the front porch of city hall to mark the 193rd anniversary of Greek independence. Photo by Bob Coupland
''There is not a day that goes by that if we speak the English language, we are using words that are derived from the Greek language,'' Kontos said.
Kontos said the New Testament of the Bible was written in Greek.
''When anyone is in church listening to the Gospel reading, it is a translation from Greek,'' he said.
St. Demetrios Church's Parish Council President George Halkias said religious freedom was just as important to Greek predecessors as it was to the early Americans when they fought for freedom.
Halkias said since Greek immigrants first arrived on the shores of the United States, Greek Americans have contributed in so many ways to society in many professions and occupations.
''The came here for the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams without oppression from any government. They worked hard and were successful in whatever they chose to be,'' Halkias said.
He thanked the Greek predecessors and previous generations who have helped to accomplish much for future generations.
Mayor Doug Franklin said, ''This is a day of enjoyment to celebrate what has been won and what you all have done for our community.''
He said the local Greek community has been a backbone for the city.
He said just as the Greeks fought for independence in 1821, today many who came to this country and became small business owners have become successful entrepreneurs and heads of multi-national companies and corporations.
''You all stand as leaders in every single field in every part of our society. That culture legacy still echoes today in classrooms, courtrooms, corporate board rooms and in all parts of communities across this nation,'' Franklin said.
Dancing and food were part of a celebration held later in the day at the St. Demetrios Community Center.