1 From the Editor: Yiannis Proestos, a young researcher in Theoretical Physics at OSU, is from Cyprus. This article is a shortened version of the address he gave at our church as part of the 2005 Greek Independence Day program. Translating his use of marvelous Greek words and phases into English became impossible; so I am publishing it in Greek, so as not to detract from its artistic merit. ept 25 Μαρτίου: Η ΕθνικήΠαλιγγενεσίατωνΕλλήνωνΑρχίζειαπότηνΠελοπόννησο Προεστός Γιάννης, Mεαίσθημαεθνικήςυπερηφάνειαςκαιψυχικήςανατάσεωςφέρνουμεκαιπάλιφέτοςστημνήμητηδιπλήγιορτήτουγένους. ΓιορτάζουμετονευαγγελισμότηςΥπεραγίαςημώνΘεοτόκου, προστάτιδαςτουέθνουςμας. Η λέξη ευαγγελισμός αποτελείταιαπό δύοεπιμέρουςλέξεις: ευ και αγγελία, πουσημαίνειτηνκαλήαγγελία, τοχαρμόσυνομαντάτο. Ταυτόχρονα τιμούμετην184 η επέτειο απότηνεπίσημηέναρξητηςεθνεγερσίαςτου1821. Παράτα400 χρόνιαυποδούλωσης, οισκλαβωμένοιέλληνεςβρήκαντοκουράγιογιαναξεσηκωθούνκαιναδιεκδικήσουντην ελευθερίατους. ΟιλιγοστοίκαιταλαιπωρημένοιΈλληνεςέπρεπεναέρθουναντιμέτωποιμεμιαπανίσχυρηκαιπολυάριθμηΟθωμανική αυτοκρατορία. ΠαράλληλαηδιεθνήςτάξηπραγμάτωντηςεποχήςκαισυγκεκριμένατοδόγματηςονομαζόμενηςΙερήςΣυμμαχίαςτων ΕυρωπαϊκώνδυνάμεωνκαιτοΜονρόΔόγματωνΗΠΑσυνέθετανμιακατάστασημηιδανικήγιατηδιεξαγωγήεπαναστατικούαγώνα. Εντούτοις, οιέλληνεςτου 21 αψήφησαντουςπιοπάνωκινδύνουςκαιχωρίςψεύτικαδιλήμματαξεκίνησαντονυπέροχοαγώναγια τηνεθνικήτουςεπιβίωση. Χωρίςλοιπόνουσιαστικήοικονομικήκαιστρατιωτικήυποστήριξηαπότηδιεθνήκοινότηταανέλαβαντοιερό χρέοςγιατηναπελευθέρωσητηςελλάδας. Μέγαςσυμπαραστάτηςτουςσεαυτήτηθαρραλέαπροσπάθειαήτανηπροσήλωσηςτουςστα ιδανικάτηςφυλής, αλλάκαιηβαθιάπίστηστοθεό. ΧαρακτηριστικάείναιταλόγιατουΘοδωρήΚολοκοτρώνη: ΟΘεόςυπέγραψε τηνελευθερίατηςελλάδοςκαιδενπαίρνειπίσωτηνυπογραφήτου. Ο ξεσηκωμόςτου 21 ήταναυτόςπουσυντάραξεταθεμέλιατηςάλλοτεκραταιάςοθωμανικήςαυτοκρατορίας. Ωστόσο, η επανάστασητωνσκλαβωμένωνελλήνωνδενήτανμιαπράξηαυθαίρετη, αλλάτοαποκορύφωμαμιαςυπεράνθρωπηςπροσπάθειαςπου κράτησετέσσεριςολόκληρουςαιώνες. ΉδηοιυπόδουλοιΈλληνεςαπότηνπρώτημέρατηςάλωσηςτηςΠόλης, τομάητου1453, δεν πτοήθηκαναπότηβαρβαρότητακαιτομίσοςτουκατακτητήκαιφύλαγανγεράτιςθερμοπύλεςτηςπαράδοσηςκαιτηςκαταγωγήςτους. Σεαυτήτηνπροσπάθειασυνέβαλανταμέγιστακαιοιμεγάλοιτουγένουςδιαφωτιστές. Έτσι, μετηνεπίσημηέναρξητουαγώναστηνηρωομάναπελοπόννησοοεπαναστατικόςάνεμοςτης λευτεριάςδενάργησεναφυσήξεικαισταάλλαυπόδουλαμέρητουελληνισμού. Κοινόήταντοσύνθημα: Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος. ΟιΟθωμανοίκατακτητές αντέδρασαν άμεσα με σφαγές, διωγμούς και βασανιστήρια, έχοντας απώτερο στόχο την κάμψη του ηθικού των επαναστατημένων Ελλήνων επιγραμματικά αναφέρουμε την καταστροφή της Χίου στις 31 Μαρτίου το Όμως ο Θ. Κολοκοτρώνης ξεκινωντας από την πάντα ελεύθερη Μάνη, Πελοπόννησο, με τα παλικάρια του αποδεκάτισαντηστρατιάτων30,000 ανδρώντουδράμαλησταδερβενάκιαστις25 Ιουλίουτου1822, απελευθερώνονταςτηντρίπολη στέλνουνέτσιτομήνυμαπροςτουςδυνάστεςότιοι Έλληνεςθα αγωνιστούνμέχριτηντελικήδικαίωσήτους. Αλλάταυτόχρονα, ποιοςθαμπορούσεναλησμονήσειτην ηρωικήέξοδοτωνελεύθερωνπολιορκημένωνστομεσολόγγιστις11 Απριλίουτου1826. Παράτογεγονόςότι, αμέτρητεςήτανοιφορέςπουηεπανάστασηκινδύνευσεμεκατάρρευσηείτεγιατίοκατακτητήςυπερτερούσε στρατιωτικάείτεγιατίημικρότηταορισμένωνανθρώπωνδημιουργούσεδιχαστικέςτάσεις, εντούτοιςοιέλληνεςδενκιότεψαν, αλλά συνέχισαντον υπέρπάντωναγώνα μειερόπείσμακαιπνεύμααυτοθυσίας. ΜεταπαραδείγματαανδρείαςκαιγενναιότηταςοιΈλληνες δίδαξανστουςδύσπιστουςευρωπαίουςπωςηελευθερίακαιηδημοκρατίακερδίζονταιμέσααπόαγώνες. Έτσιτο 1827, μετάτηνήτα τουςστηναυμαχίατουναβαρίνο, οιοθωμανοί, άρχισαντησταδιακήαποχώρησητουςαπότηνελλάδα. Η ανεξαρτησίατουελληνικού Κράτουςεπισημοποιήθηκετο1829 μετοπρωτόκολλοτουλονδίνουκαιαποτελούσεαναντίλεκτατηνεπιβράβευσητουηρωικούκαι αιματηρούαγώνατωνελλήνων. ΠρώτηπρωτεύουσαητανηπαράλιαΠελοποννησιακήπόλητουΝαυπλίου. Το1932, έγινεηαθήνα. Τογεγονόςτηςανεξαρτησίαςαποτέλεσετηναπαρχή νέωνδιεκδικήσεωντουέθνουςτόσο στοδιπλωματικόόσο καιστο στρατιωτικόεπίπεδο. Οιδιεκδικήσειςαυτέςκράτησανγιαένα καιπλέοναιώνα, ώσπουφτάνουμεστιςμέρεςμαςόπουηκλιμακούμενη ανθελληνικήπροπαγάνδαθυμίζειεποχέςιερήςσυμμαχίας. Παρόλααυτά, ηεθνικήπαλιγγενεσίατωνυπόδουλωνελλήνωντου 21 αποτελείαναμφισβήτηταμιαπαγκόσμια ιστορική κληρονομιά. ΤαμηνύματατηςγιαΕλευθερίακαιΔημοκρατίαείναι καιθα παραμείνουνάσβεστοιφωτοδότεςγιακάθελαόπουδιεκδικείταδίκαιά του. ΚιεσύόπουγηςΈλληνα: ΚλείσεμέσαστηνψυχήσουτηνΕλλάδακαιθααισθανθήςμέσασουναλαχταρίζηκάθεείδοςμεγαλείου. (ΔιονυσιοςΣολωμός) 3
2 A PELOPONNESIAN AMERICAN PATRIOT Taiganides, Eliseos Paul He will be 90 in a few months, but you would not know it from the way he remembers names, dates, and events, and from his enthusiasm for life, his energy, his humor, and his youthful demeanor. He still works as a certified public accountant, travels to Greece, Europe, Asia, and has even been in the depths of Africa. He goes to church every Sunday, was elected Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; in 1978 was appointed in the Archdiocese Council and was elected to the Leadership of 100. The church is the focal point of my life, says George Brown, who is aging methodically and gracefully, the same way he lived all his life. George Brown was born here in Columbus but he feels the pull of his Greek roots. His father, Petros Kalantzopoulos, an orphan, was from Andritsena [, a village perched on the foothills of mountains overlooking the fertile valley of the mythical river Alfeios in western Peloponnesos. Petros came to Columbus in 1903 and worked for Buckeye Steel Castings on Parson Ave. At that time, the factory was owned by the great grandfather of President Bush. Disillusioned by the fact that his foreman was given only a watch after 35 years of service, he quit the factory to open the Pete Brown restaurant on Grant Ave. He changed his surname to Brown at the urging of his two brothers, Anthony and John, whom he brought to America in They, being educated [that is they finished primary school], sensed that the best way to get ahead was to Americanize the name. By the way, 3 other men he helped bring to Columbus were Kontogiannis [the father of Nickey Jellet], Gianikos and Zanetopoulos [read the story on Anthony-Thomas]. It took 10 years to be naturalized, one hundred years ago! Peter Brown became an American citizen in He went to Greece to marry a cousin of the wife of Louis Mandros, a signee of the Greek Church charter of The bride was from the well-established Strangas family in Tripoli. We have many men and women from historic Arcadian region, and they are a credit to their origin. He brought to Columbus Taki Strangas who established a family on the east side. By 1922, Pete Brown was named Business Man of the Year, a rare honor for a young migrant, had moved his restaurant to Broad and High, and had sired 2 children, a girl and a boy. Daughter Esther was the first Greek girl to graduate from OSU. George was born in Like all the Greek kids [see photo], George, too, went to Greek school; 2 hours a day. Upon graduation from Ohio State in accounting, George volunteered for the intelligence service, the precursor to the CIA [which, George Tenet, a Peloponnesian Greek, directed for 6 years], and served almost 4 years during World War II. Upon his return from Europe in 1945, he sought a bride, but most of the Greek girls in town had married already. His mother reminded him of the young girl he had met in Toledo 7 years earlier at an AHEPA convention. He called, met her, dated her and in 1946, George married Helen Spiropoulos. Tragically, Helen died after an accident in 1999, when a drunk swerved across 3 lanes to hit their car head on. Helen and the family she raised are the best thing that ever happened to me, says George. They had 2 girls and a boy, 9 grandchildren, and a great grandson was delivered in George is one of the men who were the pillars of our community. With his close friend and fellow Peloponnesian Tom Kanatas [see the story on him], they worked on the Greek War Relief Fund in Columbus raising money and supplies to help the people in Greece that were suffering under the German occupation during WW II and the civil war that followed. Those of us who joined the Columbus Greek community when it was small and close knit, several decades ago, looked up to these community leaders, and they in return supported everyone of us who sought their counsel. I am 100% American, says George, but Greece is my mother land. George Kalantzopoulos-Brown, we salute you for being a credit to your dual heritage, American and Hellenic! 4
3 A PELOPONNESIAN GREEK PATRIOT Taiganides, Eliseos Paul I have always been fascinated by the inspiration of public benefactors for their philanthropic and patriotic deeds. I have visited villages in many parts of Greece, and particularly in Ipiros, whose well-endowed schools and decorated churches were donated by benefactors who left the villages dirt-poor but made good money abroad. George Averof [ ], who made his money in Egypt, but came from the town of Metsovo in NW Greece, paid the total expenses for the Panathenaikon Stadium where all the events for the 1896 inaugural modern Olympics were held. The marble Stadium still exists and it was used in 2004 for the crowning of the women Marathon Race winners in the 2004 Olympics. Interestingly enough, Averof paid for all the costs of construction without ever requesting estimates. Therefore, I was curious when George Sicaras, one of the prominent young Peloponnesian immigrants in our community, was talking about the works carried out by those who left his impoverished and desolate village of Kollines, 30 Km south of Tripoli. He himself donated both time and money to the village. I asked him: why did you do that? I was astonished by his answer. George retorted abruptly with a question of his own. WHY NOT? he said. In other words, I sensed that for George Sicaras it was axiomatic for an immigrant who made some extra money above and beyond the needs of his family to donate time and money to his hometown. Actually, let me use the Greek word for hometown: [patrida]. You see patrida is the word from which the anglicized word Patriot is derived. Patriot is not only the soldier who sacrifices for his country but also everyone who serves his home hometown, works at our Greek Festival as George did for more than 10 years, and now that the world is organized in nations, his/her country. By the way, George did serve in the army of his new patrida, USA; 2 years in Alaska. I continued to question his motives. After all, not every one of us who have met more than the basic needs of our families has made that level of donations to our patrida! George got emotional. I sensed that he was frustrated about the fact that I would not accept the axiomatic truth in such gesture of charity as of his and of his fellow villagers. Every time he tried to tell me about how the people had suffered and how they benefited with the little that was donated, tears would come down his eyes. He showed me books and photos of the school, the streets, the churches [pic], the hostels that were built by money from the villagers who emigrated out of the village of Kollines in the 1920s and some of them came here to Columbus and prospered like his uncle Chris Sicaras who brought George to America in Kollines went from 3,000 in the 1940s to less than 300 people now, but look at the houses that money from outside built [pic]! In Kollines, George is greeted enthusiastically by everyone [pic]. In Columbus, George operated with his cousin G Margetis the famous Blue Danube restaurant on N High Street, a hangout for OSU students in the 60s and 70s, before going into real estate, where he also succeeded. One of the unique features of Sicaras housing areas is giving the streets Greek names, something that should be emulated by the others in our community who are in housing development! It would be nice to look up and see Greek names on the roads. George served successfully as the Global Chairman of the 1996 Reunion Meeting in Kollines. Some 3000 people attended the weeklong festivities from all over the world and many parts of Greece. He showed me the extensive program, and pointed out to me the famous slogan of President John Kennedy at his 1961 inauguration: Do not ask what the country can for you; ask what you can do for your country. I said to him that what president Kennedy declared, our Greek poet Homer said it 2700 years ago and Plato articulated it a few centuries later when he wrote Patrida [home place] is more honorable than father and mother and all ancestors. It was then that I realized how much the eons-old Greek covenant of philanthropy and patriotism is ingrained in some of us! George had all that in him without ever reading Homer or Plato! 5
4 Taiganides, Eliseos Paul, THE OLYMPIC GAMES AT THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS CHAOS! There was the agony of waiting for the Games to Begin! Then came the Opening Ceremony, Friday the 13 th of August And there was light, magic, joy, pride, and ecstasy when the Games closed 17 days later without a glitch; without an accident, without terrorism!! For me it was an epiphany. JULY 2004: WAITING FOR THE GAMES TO BEGIN! It is July I am in Crete. I cannot wait for the Games to begin! I feel as anxious for the start of the Games as the athletes who devoted their youth training daily for the chance to be selected by their country to participate in the biggest, the most sacred, and most glorious of all sport events in the world. A surprising [in view of the negative press] record of 16,000 athletes and trainers from a record of 202 nations will come to us. I say us because it really is a family undertaking that affects every Greek, whether working for the organizers or waiting, like me, for the Games to begin. I get goose pimples thinking of the unique, once in lifetime, opportunity to be in Greece this Olympic year in the country where I was born. Greece is the country that gave birth to the Olympics 2,780 years ago, at a time when the rest of the world was in a state of chaos. I did not volunteer to help with the Olympics [for logistical reasons] but I feel that I must be a host to people that I know around the world. That is why I feel the urgency to put in writing my thoughts, as I want to take you in a nostalgic journey into history, to revered sacred rites, and into time of epic deeds. In 2000, I watched with tears in my eyes the transferring of the Olympic Flag to the Greek delegation in Sydney. I happened to be in Singapore at the time. I recall seeing the Greek naiads circling the Flag inviting the Olympian Gods to return to their homeland from which they were banished in 363 AD when Julian of Constantinople the last Greek-Roman-Byzantine non-christian emperor died. In the Olympiads of Sydney in 2000, and in the 1996 Atlanta games, Greece made Olympic history with astonishing wins of gold medallions even in events that were the exclusive domain of some of the greatest athletes in the world! PELOPONESSOS TOUR But, I knew that I had to go to Olympia where it all began 2,780 years earlier with the astoundingly true, innovative slogan a sound mind in a sound body, the slogan that we, at the Greek Olympic Society of Columbus, decided to use as our axiom! I had hoped that by walking around the sacred ruins of Olympia, the spirit of the place would somehow comfort me and calm my anxieties. I could not go alone, though. I needed supporting friends to help me face the seismic emotions. Maro and I took with us 20 friends from Mexico and Spain plus Voula and Ilias Adamantidis. Ilias was the first president of the Greek Olympic Society, and a frequent companion to our trips to Mexico. Years earlier, all of us bonded to form La Sociedad del Amistad [Friendship Society] for people who have been to all these 3 ancient, culturally rich, Olympic countries: México , Spain . [I recommend highly the tour I am about to outline. In fact, in my mind, in the whole world, there is no better 2-to-3-day tour that is historically fascinating and yet extremely scenic as the tour below. Assemble your friends in Athens on a Friday; the day of the week is important; rent a microbus, engage a knowledgeable guide, and make sure the guide is a diploma holder not self-taught, and that she/he would do what you want your guests to see, how long to stay at a place, etc. Ilias and I met with the guide the day before and made sure he understood our requirements, and that we were the leaders of the tour not he. Use a reputable travel agency to make hotel reservations in Nafplio, Olympia, and Delphi. I am sure your grateful friends, like ours, would gladly share in the cost of the Peloponnesian Tour]. We met in Athens on a Friday. Saturday morning, we paid homage to the splendor that is Parthenon on the Acropolis. We crossed the majestic Isthmus Canal by Corinth, and had lunch while watching ships pass by [see pic]. In the afternoon, we walked cautiously through the giant cyclopean Lion Gates [pic] of the Palace of Agamemnon in Mykines [or Mycenae]. At night, we watched highlights of irreverent Aristophanes comedies in acoustically perfect Epidauros Amphitheater [pic] where classical tragedies of the 6 great masters Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles are performed on weekends during the summer. Feidias and Praxeitelis, the genius architects of the Parthenon and of Olympia, went for medical attention at the next door Asclepius institute. Asclepius cured with his magic herbs many diseases, and even restored life to dying people. Next day, we toured briefly Nafplion [pic].
5 After a tour of majestic Nafplion, we ascended the mountain range that rises vertically above the Argos bay where Hercules [ ς came to do penance for his sins by carrying out successfully each of the 12 mission impossible assignments given to him by King Eurytheus of Argos. The zigzag road up the peak has breathtaking vistas of sea and mountains. After by-passing Tripoli, we descended through the green mountains of central Peloponnesus onto Langadia for an unforgettable lunch. Langadia, like all the other nearby villages of Arcadia [Stemnitsa, the village of our K Synodinos, historic Dimitsana, remote Baltesiniko], is build-up the steep slopes of precipitous mountain; you get dizzy looking over the abyss below each house. By late afternoon, we reached our main destination. Olympia is an inconspicuous, tranquil place below the confluence of 2 small mythical rivers. I wanted to alight the bus at once and run to the stadium where Hercules, the founder of the Olympic Games, and so many other heroes competed over the ages. [By the way, a Cypriot Greek from California has drawn up plans for a permanent site where the names of all the Olympians from the beginning onwards are inscribed for everyone to see. The names of the winners in ancient times are known because the winners were made famous throughout the world]. OLYMPIA The tourist guide suggested that we start from the Museum, a very good idea, as you can see from the impressive statues we saw. We saw a model of the Temple of Dias [Zeus], which at its prime in the 5 th century BC was considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. One wonders how in this remote place, Feidias and Praxeitelis, with no architectural nor sculpture references, could create out of chaos such perfectly harmonious art. Antonia Ferreira from Mexico, awed by the beauty of the statue of Hermes by Praxeitelis [pic] whispered to me that it looked like that of Michael Angelo s David in Florence, Italy. She grinned and consented to my retort that there could not be a comparison since the latter was created 2,000 years later. By that time, the discovery of the writings of Aristotle, Plato, Herodotus, Pindar, and the works of the eminent Greek sculptures had engendered the Renaissance Age out of 10 dark centuries of chaos in Europe and the rest of the world for that matter. 7 I ran toward the ancient Stadium, which one reaches after the Temple of Hera where the Olympic Flame is lit every four years sparked by the rays of God Helios [the Sun] and goes to the host country. It is truly amazing coincidence! In 8 PM [the Chinese consider 8 the luckiest number; for us Greeks, it is the number 13], the Flame from Olympia will light up the opening ceremony in China. China, the most populous country in the world ever to host the Olympics will follow Greece, the smallest nation to undertake such a formidable challenge! Furthermore, what is most interesting for me is that these two ancient lands located on the opposite sides of the Globe gave birth, around the same period, to the 2 major, unique world cultures! [By the way, in 2004, the Olympic Flame traveled around the globe, to every city that ever held the Olympics, to all the continents including, for the first time, Africa, plus to every town, in 54 provinces of Greece, before the inauguration of the Olympic Games in Athens on Friday 13 of August. It is rather overwhelming to think that almost all of the 11 million Greeks got to see the Olympic flame, an unprecedented but expensive exercise in democracy in the land that gave birth to both the Olympics and to Democracy! For those of us who got to touch the Olympic Flame [ ] when it came by our village, it was a unique thrill, plus we enjoyed watching on TV every day the festivals of songs and dancing that went on in every city where the Flame overnighted around the Globe]. I slowed down as I passed through the tunnel that opens up to the Olympic Stadium. I bowed, as I do when I enter a church, tip toed over the west hill [see my shade in the pic] and sat down carefully so as not to crush a blade of grass whose roots might have felt the footsteps of Hercules or Alexander the Great, or one of the Olympian Gods. I thought of Zeus who defeated here feral Kronos to become the Olympian God and of Apollo the God of light, of music, of poetry, of culture who won over his archrival Ares the God of War. Soon the rest of the group arrived. They too walked in with reverence, but after a time of contemplation, we ran races on the hallow grounds of the 776 BC Olympic Stadium, and had our pictures taken crowned with olive branch wreaths. I insisted that we stay overnight in Olympia to make sure we absorb the nuances of the place. After dinner, we walked the main street of the village that was all tourist shops. I walked alone over to the railroad station built to receive a special guest, Adolph Hitler! Germany hosted the 1936 Olympics. Jesse Owens, an Ohio State U. athlete, won 4 gold metals, but Hitler refused to shake his hand because he was black. The mayor of the city of Olympia received Hitler at the station but refused to shake his hand, explaining to the Press that the reason for his breach of protocol was the fact that Hitler violated the basic covenant of the Olympics when he did not shake the hand of Jesse Owens. In 1941 when Germany occupied Greece, the first house to be burned down by the Nazi soldiers in the town of Olympia was that of the mayor who had refused to shake hands with Hitler 4 years earlier!
6 VICIOUS PROPAGANDA I was perplexed about the acrimonious campaign against the Olympics in Greece from the press media plus corporations and countries that obviously had ulterior motives. At first, the media were writing constantly about every mishap and every delay in the erection of the facilities, taking bets that the Greeks would not have the venues ready for the opening on August 13. When all the experienced experts testified that Greece was definitely on schedule, the Press switched to security and terrorist threats. What threats? No specific threats had been noted by any intelligence service. I thought of the threats that were reported for the place and means of a terror attack in August 2001, but the 9/11 disaster a month later was not prevented! Or maybe it was of the security concerns type that the Soviet Union used as an excuse to boycott the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles? When everyone knew it was a quid pro quo for the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics ordered by President Carter because Russia had invaded Afghanistan. Oh, what price we have paid, are paying, and will pay for the colossal blunders that Super Powers make under the false belief that they know what is good for the rest of the world! The most profitable but least secure Olympics since the notorious 1972 Munich Games were the 1996 Games in Atlanta, USA. A week before the Games, a TWA jumbo plane crashed outside of New York with hundreds of passengers on its way to Paris after landing the contingent of the Greek athletes from Athens. A terrorist act was suspected, but was proven that the problem was a technical malfunction of the gas lines. President Clinton insisted that Atlanta Olympics not be canceled! A misguided Christian fundamentalist threw a bomb into celebrating crowds in Atlanta during the Games killing 1 and wounding 110! Still, the games went on unperturbed! While an innocent man was accused of the crime, the culprit threw another bomb at a bar frequented by gays. It took several years, despite the massive continuous hunt with all the resources of the FBI and hundreds of police units, to capture the real perpetrator of the sacrilegious act against humanity! Shouldn t Atlanta have focused more on security and less on profit? Could it prevent these terrorist acts? I doubt it! At first, they [not only the media but also representatives of some governments and of a core of multinational companies] said the terrorists were inside Greece. So the Greek police caught them; put them on televised trial, and they are now incarcerated. Then they switched to international terrorists. So Greece spent $1.2 billion dollars that a small country with no oil resources could ill afford. It was done to placate these bullies by buying equipment from firms that were feeding rumors to the press so they can get their products sold. Why are they still talking about safety in Greece? Every security and surveillance gadget the companies put up for sale for the sake of security, Greece bought! This negative press has caused the number of tourists to go down 8% from the year 2003 instead of up. In Mykines, in Olympia, and even in Delphi, we were the only group visiting in the late afternoon, and most of the hotels and restaurants were empty. So I sought agonizing answers at the Oracle of Delphi. DELPHI ORACLE PROPHECY We sailed by the beautiful, the new H.Trikoupis Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, that connects Peloponessos with Roumeli of mainland Greece at Rio-Antirio. [By the way, this marvel of engineering and art was awarded the coveted Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Prize, the first time ever that the Prize was awarded to a project outside the USA]. We were on our way to Delphi, the think tank of the ancient world, where the oracle Pythia answered questions from the powerful and the humble about what the future holds for them. Delphi is the navel of the world. First, we paid homage to the statue of the Charioteer, the prize possession of the Museum. We began the slow climb up the Temple of Apollo, to the Amphitheater, and up to the Olympic Stadium for the Pythian Games at the peak of mountain. From way up there, we caught our breath so we could look at the breath-taking vista of the Temple of Athena down below by the Gorge of Itea full of 4 million olive trees that are preserved since ancient times as a UN World Heritage Site. 8 We walked over to the cave where the priests used to receive questions for Pythia and bring back her enigmatic responses. I screamed the question How are the Olympics going to go? I heard my question echo through the cavernous gorge chasm. Surprisingly, a reply came: Cool I turned around amused looking for the source of the echo. Cool? I asked! In the sweltering heat of August? Why were they scheduled for the hottest period of the year? Security was the reply! Alejandro Villalobos from Cuernavaca, Mexico, played a lot of tricks on me during the past ten years, so I charged him with the prank! He denied being the source of the echo. I did not investigate further! I believed the ORACLE!
7 AUGUST 2004: THE WAITING IS OVER; GREECE TRIUMPHS! THE GAMES BEGAN AND FINISHED IN A SENSATIONAL WAY, AS PROMISED BY THE ORGANIZERS. YES, AT THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS CHAOS, BUT AT THE END, THERE WAS HARMONY. The 2004 Olympics were the coolest ever, and the best by those who monitor such events. But more importantly, they were the safest Olympics. A record number of billions of people around the world watched on TV both the Olympic and the ParOlympic Games. 9 Moreover, thanks to the 2004 Olympics, needed city beltways, beautiful metro mass transit subway systems, trams, new airports, environmentally friendly transport networks, and many other essential infrastructural conveniences were completed in Athens and at the other 4 Olympic cities, Herakleion, Thessaloniki, Patra, and Volos. In addition, wide ultramodern expressway road network from Peloponessos in the South to Macedonia in the North and from Thrace in the East to Ipiros in the West were built, which could not ever be achieved, if it were not for the Olympic Games. Athens, a city that gave us the Golden Age in the 5 th Century BC after repulsing 2 Persian invasions, shined as a global player once more, for the first time in 2400 years. Having become a super power, Athens went into a long and dark decline when she embarked on a policy of brazen imperialism during the fateful Peloponnesian War around 400 BC. [That period will be covered in our next issue of GE]. My tennis pal James Fu, the press secretary of the former Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew congratulated me when I visited Singapore last November. He said in front of dignitaries: Paul, I always thought of Greece as an impoverished country. I changed my mind after watching the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympics and I got a sense of the grandeur of your country. You should be very proud. [Well, I personally had another good reason to be very proud. Haralampos Taiganides [pic], a nephew from my village of Polymylos in Makedonia, won a Bronze and 2 Gold Medals in swimming in the ParOlympics 2004]. James Fu and a billion people around the globe like me experienced an epiphany in August May the memory of the 2004 Olympics live forever! So, I told myself to savor the historic year. The Olympics will never happen again in Greece, unless...! Unless the International Olympic Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, puts aside embedded politics, ignores economic interests of the media, of the security-selling firms, and of prospective hosting cities, to accept what the Greeks have been proposing for decades that the Olympic Games be held permanently in Greece forever and ever, and onto the ages of ages! FAT CHANCE! s.