Ahepans lay a wreath at Tomb of the Unknowns, visit more than 600 gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery

Washington, DC – A proud tradition continued Memorial Day 2016 when members of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a leading association for the nation’s millions of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, paid their respects on behalf of the American Hellenic community to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and liberty at Arlington National Cemetery.

Brother George Karatzia, who served in the U.S. Army and is a Vietnam War veteran; retired U.S. Army Col. Nicholas P. Vamvakias, who served two combat tours in Vietnam where he received the Silver Star, America’s third-highest award for Valor and three awards of the Bronze Star, one for Valor, and the Purple Heart; and Executive Director Basil Mossaidis participated at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. An Honor Guard Specialist assisted them. Since 1924 Ahepans have returned annually to Arlington to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“This was one of the most powerfully moving experiences of my life,” Karatzia 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 especially meaningful to perform this ceremony as our brave men and women remain in harm’s way.”

Estimated 660 Gravesites Memorialized at Arlington

On Saturday, May 28, 2016, AHEPA family members from the Washington, DC metro area, led by AHEPA Chapter 31, Washington, DC, Col. Peter N. Derzis Chapter 438, Arlington, VA, and Molon Labe Chapter 542, Dulles, Va., gathered to memorialize those identified as Greek Americans or Greek Orthodox who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. According to organizers, there are roughly 660 gravesites at which AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope members present a laurel wreath and pause in remembrance of those who perished for our nation. This ceremony has been performed annually since 1949.

“I commend the AHEPA family of the Metro Washington, DC area for its carefully detailed effort to properly honor and remember the memory of those brave souls of our community who sacrificed so much for freedom,” Supreme President John Galanis said.