Yeadon, PA – Seventy-one years later, the Greek-American VFW Post 6633 commemorated Memorial day at Fernwood Cemetery amongst family members, friends, and veterans. The tradition originated in 1946, at Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, and it is the longest running tradition in the Greek American community in the Delaware Valley.
Under cloudy skies and a light rain, Fernwood cemetery filled with visitors laying wreaths while Greek Orthodox priests recited prayers. In the northeast corner of the cemetery, a monument dedicated to the fallen was surrounded by Greek and American flags. Two Greek-American veterans holding rifles awaited the moment to fire, that would highlight the day.
“As you can see our ranks are thinning, but we remember every year”, said Vietnam Veteran Billy Phillips. Phillips is one of the few Vietnam and Korean veterans present. He shared the duties of reading out all the names of those who fought and those who gave their lives. Most present today, WW II veterans and family of those that had been lost during from the greatest generation.
A tape deck playing taps followed the reading of the names and a two gun salute sounded the anti-climatic moment that has been celebrated now for 71 years. Both guns were shot off, but only once. On the second attempt, they both jammed. Perhaps a metaphor for things to come as these tired soldiers have aged. “I’m concerned about the future and having these names read out when we’re gone. But today I was encouraged. Two young people came up to me, and asked if they can help”, said George Baxevanos of VFW Post 6633. Baxevanos was one of the organizers of the day and plays a key role in running this organization. ‘We are looking at the next generation, and partnering with a group that can help run it when we’re gone”.
The afternoon closed with two other long traditions. Federal Street Pretzels were shared at the end of the day along with a photograph they all joined in.