Upper Darby, PA – The Pontian Akritai Society of Philadelphia commemorated genocide day, May 19th, this past Sunday with a memorial service at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church. Members of the organization including the youth dance group participated in a theatrical lament and march that took them from the Pontian monument in front of the church to the hall.

For the first time, a replica of the Icon of Panagia Soumela was part of the service at St. Demetrios and was present throughout the ceremony. The icon was brought from the Holy Institution, Panagia Soumela in West Milford New Jersey.

Gus Tsilfidis, President of the Pan Pontian Federation of USA and Canada addressed the crowd, along with Haralambos Vasiliathis, President of the Holy Institution of Panagia Soumela. Tsilfidis made a bold step forward and addressed the attendees in English, while Vasiliathis kept with tradition and spoke in Greek.

The theatrical performance was lead by President of the Akritai, Ifigeneia Pavlidou-ikonomou and her son Vasili who sang a lament to the genocide of Pontos. The dance troupe sang in the background as Vasiliki Tsanaktsidou lead a solo performance that reminiscent of lost homeland, Pontos. In her cry for her loss of country, Tsanaktsidou concluded with her dramatic grasp of soil, which was laid out on stage. Tears were shed by the audience as they looked on. Tsanktsidou followed by sharing the handfuls of soil with the Akritai performers.