WHITESTONE, NY – July 17 at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Whitestone, the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO), in cooperation with the Justice for Cyprus International Organizing Committee (PSEKA) and the Consulate General of Cyprus in New York, organized the commemoration of the 48th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus by Turkey. The event began with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and the memorial service in honor of those who lost their lives during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on July 20, 1974. After services, a makaria and a short program were held in the community’s Vasilios and Athanasia Kartsonis Hall.
In his homily, His Eminence said, “We gather this morning – in this Church of the Holy Cross – to remember the sacrifice of others, the lives that have been lost and the struggle that continues. I speak, of course, of our memorial and our commemoration of the illegal invasion of Cyprus by Turkey which occurred forty-eight years ago this week.
Bishop Elpidophoros continued, “Observing this solemn remembrance in a church dedicated to the Holy and Precious Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is a deeply moving symbol. For the crucifixion and division of this noble island nation was one in which we must search deeply for meaning, and indeed, salvation.
“The Cross of our Lord is heavy to bear, especially for the families of those who perished and for those whose way of life has been destroyed. But it is a Cross that God carried first for the good of all. It is a cross that leads to redemption, healing, forgiveness and love. This is why we must never lose faith in justice for Cyprus and in bringing justice and unity back to this divided land.
“We pray for the souls of our lost brothers and sisters who perished during the invasion of Cyprus forty-eight years ago,” His Eminence said. “We will never forget them, and we will never allow the world to forget. Our prayers for their souls are also cries to heaven for justice.
“We remember the destroyed churches and icons of Cyprus, the sacred objects and the sacred stones that disappeared as a result of the unjust division of this island bedrock of civilization that dates back more than nine thousand years,” he said. he noted. “And during this same week, we remember how our precious Aghia Sophia was seized and converted to an extraterrestrial purpose. It is as if the same forces that seek to dominate others by force seek the obliteration of our very souls. But we won’t give up and we won’t back down. We will remember.
“In today’s gospel, the Lord told us that we are the light of the world. Therefore, let us pledge never to allow the cause of Cyprus to recede into the shadows. Let us always shine the light of truth and justice upon this precious island nation, until all dark and gloomy sorrow fades from sight, and the sun of justice shines forth upon all,” His Eminence concluded.
Full remarks are available online: https://bit.ly/3RGxBhG.
FCAO President Kyriacos Papastylianou delivered the welcome remarks for the commemoration program, thanking everyone present for their continued support for the ongoing struggle for justice in Cyprus, and presented an emotionally moving video which included eyewitness accounts of the devastating toll of the 1974 invasion.
PSEKA President Philip Christopher also thanked everyone in attendance for their support of various events and fundraisers and provided an update on recent efforts, including the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the amendment blocking the sale of F-16s to Turkey. He noted that “we must work together to continue as American citizens to bring about change in our foreign policy” and “we must be a thorn in Turkey’s side.”
The Consul General of Cyprus in New York, Michalis Firillas, spoke in his remarks about the dark days of the invasion and the chaos that followed. He shared personal memories, including how the family’s large lemon tree, which was destroyed and burned but his father saved it and with the help of his uncle, grafted it in, and the tree grew and continues to thrive, and this burned, uprooted, huge The lemon tree is like the Hellenism of Cyprus which continues to thrive.
The Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras thanked and congratulated the organizers of the event, in particular the FCAO and its worthy President Kyriacos Papastylianou and PSEKA and its indefatigable President Philip Christopher, as well as all those present for taking the time to participate, wishing for even better results than have already been achieved. He pointed out that every summer during these days, the memory of Hellenism looks back to the invasion that took place 48 years ago, no one forgets and nothing is forgotten, even as Ankara continues its threats. daily. Koutras again thanked everyone for the ongoing struggle for Cyprus, for Greece and our national rights, noting that it is our historic debt to those who fought and made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, is our debt to the younger generations who have “the right to live in a modern European country, a free Cyprus, without roadblocks, without barbed wire and without occupying forces. He concluded by saying that their memory be eternal for the heroes, Greeks and Cypriots, who fought for freedom.
Among those present were Greece’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Maria Theofili and her Cypriot counterpart Ambassador Andreas Hadjichrysanthou, New York State Assembly Member Michael Tannousis and Member of Parliament of the FCAO Board of Directors Despina Axiotakis.
FCAO President Papastylianou gave the closing speech, thanking the Holy Cross community, its presiding priest Fr. George Anastasiou, the parish council and president Dimitris Antonakis, the church secretary Niovi Philippou and all who helped make the event possible.