Upper Darby, PA – The Pontian Akritai of Philadelphia commemorated the Pontian Genocide on Sunday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church. The event recognizes the loss of homeland and 353, 000 people that were victims of the Young Turks and their successors at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The Akritai members, youth and guests gathered for church services that memorialized the day at St. Demetrios. Following church, a replica icon of Panagia Soumela and wreaths were laid outside the church on the monument where the community gathered. Former Akritai President Paul Boukidis of the Syllogo read off a speech that addressed the history of the historic genocide that continues to draw international attention and recognition from many countries around the world.
Turkey continues to deny the that it was a genocide even while scholars and historians around the world have publicly validated that the historic event took place. Armenians, Assyrians and other Christian minorities were also part of the first genocide of the 20th century. While some recognition of the loss of minority christians has been acknowledged by Turkey, the term genocide continues to be a taboo topic.
The ceremony concluded with a song of lament “Mavri Thalassa”, by the youth dance group that participated. Many who attended shed tears throughout the ceremony in honor of their lost fellow Pontians. Some in attendance were first generation immigrants whose families first arrived into the Delaware Valley directly from Pontos during those dark days.
The monument is one of two in North America built in honor of those lost and is frequented by many Greeks that visit the oldest historic Pontian community “Akritai” in Upper Darby.