AHEPA, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, is holding its 99th supreme convention in Athens, Greece from July 25 until July 31.
The fraternal organization kicked off its supreme convention on July 25 with both supreme lodge and board meetings, as well as the opening ceremonies to honor the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, and Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos.
The first general session of the event took place on Monday, July 26 in central Athens’ Grande Bretagne hotel, where a series of members of the Greek government spoke and received their honors.
On Tuesday, the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, hosted a reception in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Athens to honor the members of the Association as well as the members of the World Interparliamentary Union of Hellenism.
President Sakellaropoulou was awarded the “AHEPA Socrates Award” by the supreme president of the organization, George Horiates.
“Your presence here is an honor for me personally, as you represent countless Greeks abroad, who make us proud of their progress, attitude and contribution, both in the countries where they live and in their motherland, the which they never forget,” the President of Greece noted.
President Sakellaropoulou also mentioned that 2022 will mark the centennial of the creation of AHEPA.
”Since 1922, (AHEPA) has grown and became an example to be imitated, both in the American society and beyond, with a remarkable social contribution, with works of inspiration, without ever forgetting its motherland,” the President noted.
On Wednesday, AHEPA held its second day of the convention, where it honored both the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, and the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
‘You chose to come to Greece this year,” PM Mitsotakis said, ”something that holds a special historical significance, 200 years after the Greeks rose up to fight for their freedom and to establish the first nation-state in the Balkan Peninsula.”
”A revolution inspired by the American Founding Fathers and the stable and enduring relationship between the two countries which is becoming increasingly stronger,” Mitsotakis added.
On his behalf, President Anastasiades thanked the Association for honoring him, noting that this ”honor is of the greatest value if one considers that is awarded by an Association which has been successfully promoting and defending the ideals, values, and principles of Hellenism for almost a century.”
AHEPA: 99 Years of Service and Contribution
AHEPA was founded on July 26, 1922, in Atlanta, Georgia. Its main founding purpose was to fight for civil rights, and against the discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt by Greeks in America at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, which was powerful at the time.
The Association is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes. There have been 540 chapters of AHEPA chartered in the United States, 16 chartered in Canada, 30 chartered in Greece, five chartered in Cyprus, and ten chartered in Europe, beyond Greece.
AHEPA recognizes distinguished achievements in a wide variety of categories such as Public Service, Government, Law, Business, Journalism, Science, the Arts, Military Service, and Humanitarian, and it bestows awards to individuals whose contribution to these fields is significant.
The Association proudly claims that ”for nearly 100 years, we have promoted the ancient Hellenic ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism.”
Membership in AHEPA was originally restricted only to Greeks. At its third meeting, the Order decided to change this principle, allowing non-Greeks to join.
In 1979, the Association had over 25,000 members and by 1989, the number climbed to 60,000, despite an overall decline in memberships of fraternal groups during this period.
An estimated 500,000 people have been inducted into the Order of AHEPA over its 99-year history.