Yeadon, PA – ”The year was 1946. At the intersection of Twelfth and Fitzwater Street in South Philadelphia, that is where we held our first Memorial Day service”, said Commander George Baxevanos of the Greek-American VFW Post 6633. “There, at the original Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, the Greek-American VFW post commemorated their first Memorial Day service.” Vice Commander George Baxevanos was thirteen then and recalled taking two trolley cars with his family from North Philadelphia to church in the heart of South Philly.
Today, along with fourteen of his peers, mostly WW II veterans he stood side by side-saluted and heard the names of those that had served and passed. Family members, sons and daughters attended the annual event that now takes place at Fernwood Cemetery in Yeadon PA.
There a handsome headstone covered with the names of veterans and flags (of Greece and America) dominates the intersection of the Greek section. Before the ceremony started, generations of relatives reviewed and found the names of their loved ones and then took their positions under an Oak tree for the formal ceremony. Veteran Manny Leventelis led the post members in a series of readings acknowledge their service and then laid a wreath. A two-gun salute followed, that ran aground when only one of the guns went off. Maybe it symbolized the need for younger Greek-American veterans to come and join the organization and take the honor of firing the rifle during the climactic moment of the ceremony. The men pulled up their weapons and continued with the ceremony. Like those that had passed, life goes on.
Although there are several Vietnam and Korean war veterans, the organization is made up mostly of WWII members that continue to pass. The organization continues to shrink.
Some 358 veteran names were read off today during the 30-minute ceremony. The veterans would gather and march to the Greek section of Fernwood Cemetery in Yeadon and sodas and Federal Street pretzels were shared at the conclusion each year. But alas, those traditions appear to be fading with the numbers of vets.
Cosmos Philly wishes to thank all veterans and those currently serving in America’s armed forces here and throughout the world, for their service and we ask that all our viewers and supporters never forget our veterans and service men and women, especially the Eleftheria VFW Post 6633.