As we honor our great Veterans who so selflessly served our country, I invite you to take a step back to a time over 75 years ago. Our nation was entrenched in World War II and as one America, all efforts were united to defeat the enemy. We know them today as the Greatest Generation, but at the time, victory was not guaranteed.
The future of our country was unknown as our brothers and sisters fought across the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. After living in Greece from 1929 through 1939, my father George Burlotos returned to America on the last sailing of the Nea Hellas prior to its conversion to a troop transport ship. At 15 years of age, he enrolled as a freshman at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, NJ, and worked at his father’s deli on Market Street. Camden was the nucleus of South Jersey and many Greeks lived and owned businesses in the area.
In 1943, George was a senior and preparing for his enlistment into the Navy immediately after his high school graduation. George was involved in many American and Greek activities, including the Sons of Pericles. On February 28, 1943, the Sons held their First Annual Ball and Play to raise money for the war effort.
After my father passed away last year, I found the program for this event. The program was filled with countless Greek names and businesses that supported the Ball. It was a step back in time to our Greek Community in 1943. There were many familiar Greek family names that still reside in the area today.
What really left me speechless was the Foreword my father wrote as President of the Sons. Here he was, a 19-year-old high school senior with English as his second language. Yet he was able to convey so proudly what it means to be an American and to sacrifice for Victory and Freedom.
I share this with you today to honor our Veterans, both past and present and thank you for your service. We are one America, and because of your sacrifices, we enjoy the FREEDOM that you provide.
While the cannons and the rifles meet in bloody battles, while heroes fall while people have fear about their relatives in the armed forces, we gather here tonight to renew our spirit of carrying on the great ideas of our ancestors.
From the days of Pericles, when democracy was born, until the days of George Washington when the democracy war was reborn, and from then until today, one word is the glory of a better life. FREEDOM.
Mothers, Fathers, and Senior Ahepans take our promise, that we the Sons of Pericles will be the citizens of a better world, who will know how to preserve the democratic ideas, which Pericles started in the days of the Golden Age of Athens.
With deep gratitude, we thank our dear American friends, who have been so generous and responsive. We also appreciate the innumerable business friends, whose advertisements have contributed to the financial success of our first play and dance.
Wishing victorious return to the Sons of the service, in God, we trust that Victory is ours.
– George Burlotos, President