WASHINGTON, DC — A day after receiving Greece’s highest honor, the Grand Commander of the Order of Phoenix, AHEPA went right back to doing the important work that has made it an integral part of the American mosaic.
First performed nearly a century ago, AHEPA continued a proud, time-honored annual tradition when it paid its respects on behalf a grateful American Hellenic community to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and liberty at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery, May 18, 2022. Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas, Daughters of Penelope Grand President Kathy Bizoukas, Col. Nicholas P. Vamvakias (USA, Retired), chair of the AHEPA Veterans Committee and past supreme treasurer; and Col. Vasileios Lampropoulos, Defense attaché, Embassy of Greece in Washington; placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. An Honor Guard Specialist from 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) assisted them and a U.S. Army Band Bugler played “Taps.”
“This was one of the most powerfully moving experiences of my life,” Kokotas said. “We honored the sacrifices of those throughout our nation’s history who paid the ultimate price, and we expressed—in a small yet significant way—our community’s gratitude to our nation’s fallen. It was also especially meaningful to perform this ceremony at this time in our nation’s history when our brave men and women continue to be in harm’s way.”
Grand President Bizoukas added it also was an honor to stand with retired Col. Vamvakias and Col. Lampropoulos at such a meaningful and moving ceremony. Since 1924, Ahepans have returned annually to Arlington to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Last year, the Tomb marked 100 years as a sacred memorial site and grave of three unknown American soldiers. This Memorial Day weekend, AHEPA family members from the Washington, D.C. metro area also will gather to memorialize those who are identified as Greek Americans or Greek Orthodox who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a figure that totals more than 600 gravesites.