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Three Greek War of Independence Heroes Remembered in Aurora, Illinois
By: Demetris Tsakas
Special to The National Herald

The American Philhellene George Jarvis

New York – Approximately three-hundred Greek Americans and philhellenes joined Thomas Weisner, Mayor of Aurora – Illinois’ second largest city, World Council of Hellenes Abroad U.S. Regional Coordinator Ted Spyropoulos, Greek Consul General in Chicago Ambassador Anastasios Petrovas, and other representatives of the organized Greek American Community last Thursday, March 19, at Pipers Banquets hall in a memorial tribute to three major philhellenes and Greek Revolutionary War heroes Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, George Jarvis, and Captain Jonathan P. Miller.

This is the second such event that has been organized by the American Philhellene Society 1810-1840, which was formed by Panagiotis Nikolopoulos and his family for the purpose of studying, recording, and promoting the contribution and unrivaled heroism of American citizens who volunteered in the Greek War of Independence in 1821 to help the longsuffering Greek people overthrow their Turkish oppressors.

Dr. Angelyn Balodimas-Bartolomei, a Professor at Chicago North Park University School of Education for ESL Teachers’ Endorsement, gave a brief presentation recapping Greece’s contribution to the world from ancient times until the present day, after which she turned her attention to the role of American philhellenes Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, George Jarvis, and Captain Jonathan Miller.

Mayor Weisner congratulated the event organizers and also presented Michael Bousis, a supermarket owner in Aurora, with the Businessman of the Year award in recognition of his professional and philanthropic accomplishments.

According to Mr. Nikolopoulos, the Bousis family is renowned for their support of the Greek American Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Illinois and other not-for-profit institutions.

Illinois State Assemblywoman Linda Chapa LaVia was on hand at the event, together with three other Illinois state lawmakers to present Mr. Nikolopoulos with Illinois House of Representatives’ Resolution 167 through which the valiant efforts of American philhellenes in the Greek War for Independence are recognized and honored.

The driving force behind the renewed effort to recognize American philhellenes, Panagiotis Nikolopoulos, expressed his pleasure over the dynamic response shown by Greek Americans and non-Greeks alike to his efforts, and their interest in learning more about the role of philhellenes in the Greek Revolutionary War of 1821.

(L-R) Elias Leontaris, Alex Alexandrou, Panagiotis Nikolopoulos, Aurora's Businessman of the Year Michael Bousis and his children, Ambassador Anastasios Petrovas, Ioannis Tzoumerkas, Ted Spyropoulos, Dr. Angelyn Balodimas-Bartolomei, and Mayor Thomas Weisner.

“The speech given by North Park University of Chicago’s Professor Angelyn Balodimas-Bartolomei piqued the interest of the large audience gathered here, because aside from her historic reflection on Ancient Greece, the fall of Canstantinople and the Byzantine Empire, and the 400-year period of Ottoman rule, she also touched on many aspects of the contributions made by Adamantios Koreas, the Philiki Eteria, and the unparalleled heroism of philhellenes who fought alongside the gritty Greek revolutionaries, which were unknown to many people in the audience,’ Mr. Nikolopoulos said.

In addition, he also added that his organization honored the Mayor of Aurora, while noting that Mayor Weisner in turn honored the Consul General of Greece Ambassador Anastasios Petrovas and the Greek Municipality of Leontario.

During the event, the audience heard messages from the descendants of George Jarvis, Greek Parliament Vice-President Elsa Papademetriou, and other Greek state officials.

A delegation from the University of the Peloponnese was also on hand for the event, led by Ioannis Tzoumerkas. According to Mr. Nikolopoulos, the University of the Peloponnese will join his organization and historical researchers from the United States to organize the first academic conference on the contribution of philhellenes to the Greek War of Independence. The conference is scheduled to take place in September 2010 in the city of Argos, located in Nafplion, Greece.

“The Jarvis family are strong supporters of this effort and have promised to grant us a floor in a building they own on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. as of November 15th free of charge, so that we may set up our offices. They have also promised to design the office to facilitate and house a foundation that will be governed by a seven-member council – three members of which will be appointed by the Jarvis family and four by us – composed mostly of academicians and historical experts who will work on recording the contributions of philhellenes,” Mr. Nikolopoulos added.