May 19th, 2013.-Upper Darby. Tear’s filled the eyes of young and old alike yesterday at the Pontian memorial service. The Pontian “Akritai” (Black Sea Greeks) organization of Philadelphia commemorated the Genocide of 353,000 people and their loss of homeland at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church in Upper Darby.

Pontus (Greek: Πόντος, “sea”) is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος Εύξεινος Pontos Euxeinos (“Hospitable Sea”), or simply Pontos.

Following the memorial service at St. Demetrios church, the congregation followed the percession led by the dance troupe members and leaders of the “Pontian Akritai Society” to the Pontian monument that stands adjacent to the exterior. There, under grey skies, a formal ceremony of Black and white began.

Effie Pavlidou-Economou, President of the Pontian “Akritai” of Philadelphia and Father Nektarios of St. Demetrios directed the ceremony that included a lament, receited by, Ioanna Gerasimidou (Pontian Dance troupe member), titled, “Parthen H Romania”. The song describes the loss of homeland and proclaims that dead Romania will flower and bear fruit again.

A group of Pontian dance performers, draped in black filed in to the middle of the crowed behind the monument as Gerasimidou spoke. Effie Economou then addressed the crowed and introduced Vasiliki Tsanaktsidou, also a member of the Pontian “Akritai” of Philadelphia.

Tsanaktsidou’s statement, part political the other an emotional plea, brough the crowed and performers to tears as they listened. Her message was addressed in part to the Turkish government to apologize and recognize genocide and the loss of their homeland. The speech captivated the crowed as they stood by in the rain.

After a brief moment of silence, members of the community and dignitaries filed by the monument, leaving flowers and wreaths. Tsanaktsidou’s statement in it’s entirety can be hear and seen this afternoon on the video portion of our report.

For more information about the Pontian “Akritai” and history, visit them below.

Pontian Society “Akritai”
6456 Market St Upper Darby, PA 19082
(610) 352-3525