Once again we celebrate the bravery and heroism of the Hellenes and commemorate the fallen, wounded and imprisoned countrymen and –women of ours that fought for freedom!
On October 28th, 1940, a small country with great poverty, but rich in principles, ideals and ethics did not budge to the bullying of an axis power, a fascist regime that wanted to destroy its independence!
Hellas prevailed, ‘kicked’ fascist Italy ‘in the gut’ and wrote history as the first defeat of an axis power during World War II.
Our beloved Epiros was in the forefront of the battles, nearly all of them taking place in its midst! The Epirotans, foremost the Epirotan women, the women of Pindos, Souli and Pogoni played the crucial role of supplying the Hellenic forces with ammunition, food, medicines and anything else needed to defend our country! These women, the mothers, the wives, the sisters who gave their sweat, blood and lives on the winterly mountains of Epiros we should not forget to commemorate today! They are the ones that kept the Hellenic spirit alive on the snow-covered Epirotan mountains. They were not budging from the side of their men, defending their homeland, their families, their culture and civilization!
This victory of ‘David against Goliath’ is what we are celebrating today. It is this victory, which we shall teach to our children and children’s children, a victory that emanated from a thirst for freedom and independence, a victory that describes the Hellenic spirit!
Kalpaki, Elaia-Kalamas, Patoma, Mouka, Arenes, Smolikas, Kastaniani, Kiafa, Samarina, Eptahori, Fourka, Distrato, Vassilitsa…..battles in Epiros, battles of 2000 Hellenic soldiers under Colonel Davakis fighting over 10000 elite alpinist Italian soldiers members of the “Giulia” division. A ratio of 1 to 5, a ratio that played no role, the events on the Epirotan mountains proving mathematic calculations wrong when you fight Hellenes defending their nation!
The counter attack of the Hellenic forces liberated Korytsa, Premeti, Argyrokastro, Delvino, Aghioi Saranta and numerous other towns and villages of Northern Epiros! Unfortunately, liberty did not last for long, the German Wehrmacht attacking insidiously through Bulgarian territory.
Once again today, I commemorate my grandfather Ioannis, who fought with the 51st Battalion in the battle of Vasilitsa under Colonel Davakis and in the battle of Premeti under General Katsimitros! As Hellenes, we commemorate our ancestors fighting for our Nation and our Ideals! As Americans, we commemorate the Hellenic struggle, which consequently lead to the liberation of Europe from the axis powers! As citizens of the world, we commemorate the Hellenic spirit, which initiated the defeat of fascist and nazi ideologies!
The lessons of ‘OXI’ day are here to stay!
On October 28th, 2021, let the present-day aggressors to the east of Hellas be reminded that “Hellenes fight like heroes” and “Heroes fight like Hellenes” when they have to defend their home, their freedom and their independence!
ΖΗΤΩ Ο ΕΛΛΗΝΙΣΜΟΣ! ΖΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΕΘΝΟΣ!
Ioannis (John) Katsimbaris President of Panepirotic Federation of America
Αγαπητοί Ηπειρώτες και άλλοι Έλληνες συμπατριώτες,
Για άλλη μια φορά γιορτάζουμε τη γενναιότητα και τον ηρωισμό των Ελλήνων και μνημονεύουμε τους πεσόντες, τραυματίες και φυλακισμένους συμπατριώτες και συμπατριώτισσες μας που πολέμησαν για την ελευθερία!
Στις 28 Οκτωβρίου 1940, μια μικρή φτωχή χώρα, αλλά πλούσια σε αρχές, ιδανικά και ήθος δεν υποχώρησε στους εκβιασμούς μιας δύναμης του «άξονα», ενός φασιστικού καθεστώτος που ήθελε να καθηλώσει την ανεξαρτησία της! Η Ελλάδα επικράτησε, «κλώτσησε» τη φασιστική Ιταλία «στα σπλάχνα» και έγραψε ιστορία ως η πρώτη ήττα μιας δύναμης του «άξονα» κατά τη διάρκεια του δευτέρου παγκοσμίου πολέμου.
Η αγαπημένη μας Ήπειρος ήταν στην πρώτη γραμμή των μαχών! Οι Ηπειρώτες, πρωτίστως οι Ηπειρώτισσες, οι γυναίκες της Πίνδου, του Σουλίου και του Πωγωνίου έπαιξαν τον καθοριστικό ρόλο στον εφοδιασμό των Ελληνικών στρατιωτικών δυνάμεων, μεταφέροντας πυρομαχικά, τρόφιμα, φάρμακα και ό,τι άλλο χρειαζόταν για την άμυνα της χώρας μας! Αυτές τις γυναίκες, οι μάνες, οι σύζυγοι, οι αδερφές που έδωσαν τον ιδρώτα, το αίμα και τη ζωή τους στα χειμερινά βουνά της Ηπείρου δεν πρέπει να ξεχάσουμε να γιορτάσουμε σήμερα! Είναι αυτές που κράτησαν ζωντανό το ελληνικό πνεύμα στα χιονισμένα Ηπειρωτικά βουνά. Δεν κουνήθηκαν από την πλευρά των ανδρών τους, υπερασπίζοντας την πατρίδα τους, τις οικογένειές τους, την κουλτούρα και τον πολιτισμό τους!
Αυτή η νίκη του «Δαυίδ εναντίον του Γολιάθ» είναι αυτό που γιορτάζουμε σήμερα. Αυτή είναι η νίκη, την οποία θα πρέπει να διδάσκουμε στα παιδιά μας και τα παιδιά των παιδιών μας, μια νίκη που προήλθε από τη δίψα για ελευθερία και ανεξαρτησία, μια νίκη που περιγράφει το ελληνικό πνεύμα! Καλπάκι, Ελαία-Καλαμάς, Πάτωμα, Μούκα, Αρένες, Σμόλικας, Καστάνιανη, Κιάφα, Σαμαρίνα, Επταχώρι, Φούρκα, Δίστρατο, Βασιλίτσα…..μάχες της Ηπείρου, μάχες 2000 Ελλήνων στρατιωτών υπό τον συνταγματάρχη Δαβάκη πολεμώντας πάνω από 10000 επίλεκτους αλπινιστές Ιταλούς στρατιώτες μέλη της μεραρχίας «Τζούλια». Μια αναλογία 1 προς 5, μια αναλογία που δεν έπαιξε ρόλο, τα γεγονότα στα Ηπειρωτικά βουνά μας θυμίζουν ότι οι μαθηματικοί υπολογισμοί αποδικνύονται λανθασμένοι όταν πολεμάς τον Ελληνικό λαό υπερασπιζόμενο το έθνος του!
Η αντεπίθεση του ελληνικού στρατού απελευθέρωσε την Κορυτσά, την Πρεμετή, το Αργυρόκαστρο, το Δέλβινο, τους Αγίους Σαράντα και πολλές άλλες πόλεις και χωριά της Βορείου Ηπείρου! Δυστυχώς, η ελευθερία δεν κράτησε για πολύ, η γερμανική Βέρμαχτ επιτέθηκε ύπουλα μέσω βουλγαρικού εδάφους.
Για άλλη μια φορά, σήμερα τιμώ τη μνήμη του παππού μου Ιωάννη, που πολέμησε με το 51ο τάγμα στη μάχη της Βασιλίτσας υπό τον συνταγματάρχη Δαβάκη και στη μάχη της Πρεμετής υπό τον στρατηγό Κατσιμήτρο! Ως Έλληνες, τιμούμε τους προγόνους μας που αγωνίζονται για το Έθνος και τα Ιδανικά μας! Ως Αμερικανοί, μνημονεύουμε τον αγώνα των Ελλήνων, που κατά συνέπεια οδήγησαν στην απελευθέρωση της Ευρώπης από τις δυνάμεις του άξονα! Ως πολίτες του κόσμου, μνημονεύουμε το ελληνικό πνεύμα, που εγκαινιάσει την ήττα των φασιστικών και ναζιστικών ιδεολογιών! Τα διδάγματα της επετείου του «OXI» είναι για πάντα μαζί μας!
Στις 28 Οκτωβρίου 2021, ας υπενθυμίσουμε στους σημερινούς προβοκάτορες προς ανατολάς ότι «οι Έλληνες πολεμούν σαν ήρωες» και «οι ήρωες πολεμούν σαν Έλληνες» όταν πρέπει να υπερασπιστούν την πατρίδα τους, την ελευθερία τους και την ανεξαρτησία τους!
ΖΗΤΩ Ο ΕΛΛΗΝΙΣΜΟΣ! ΖΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΕΘΝΟΣ!
Ιωάννης Κατσίμπαρης Πρόεδρος της Πανηπειρωτικής Ομοσπονδίας Αμερικής
25th of March 2021, 200 years anniversary of the Greek Revolution!
Today All Hellenes and Philhellenes in the whole world celebrate Greek National Day!
200 years of Liberty, 200 years of national sovereignty!
A day of proudness for the Hellenic Republic and for the Greek soul! A day of proudness for humanity in general, since it stands for ethnic sovereignty, ethnic self-determination, religious freedom, liberty, independence and abolition of slavery! Slavery of ethnic Greeks and other Christians who were often traded in the slave-bazaars of the Ottomans the same way as ‘goods’! Once again, Epirotans like Skoufas, Tsakalov, Karaiskakis, Tzavelas, Botsaris, Kolletis and others were in the forefront of organizing and giving their lives for the Hellenic cause!
Let our mind and our soul travel to the places of bravery….Aghia Lavra, Valtetsi, Tripoli, Psara, Souli, Gravia, Messolongi, Arkadi and many others! Places of battle, struggle and sorrow, but ultimately places of pride and glory! Places where David won over Goliath, where human dignity won over human oppression! Places where Hellenes proved once again the ideals that identify them, perseverance, thirst for liberty and freedom of expression and the will to fight until death for their ideals! “Eleftheria i Thanatos”, ‘Freedom or Death’!
Battles where human blood was shed so that today’s Hellenic state can stand in solid foundations! A modern European Democracy, which upholds human rights, human dignity, liberty and justice for all! A modern state with impressive infrastructure, prosperity, self-esteem and confidence, ready to tackle the challenges of the future!
Eternal Memory to our fallen ancestors and everyone who gave his life fighting for Hellenic ideals!
Let us stay awaken and be ready to defend these ideals and the Hellenic State! Let’s make sure we keep on celebrating anniversaries in the coming 200, 400….1000 years to come!
Long live the Hellenic Republic! Long live the Hellenic Spirit! Ζήτω η Ελλάς! Ζήτω ο Ελληνισμός!
Today Epirotans and whole of Hellas celebrate the liberation of Ioannina, the geopolitical and financial center of Epirus, from the Ottoman Empire! It is a day of joy, a day of remembrance and a day of syllogism!
Joy that the years of occupation, aggression and oppression were finally over after numerous years of protest, resistance, war and human sacrifice! Joy that peace and human values have finally prevailed over the battered Epirotic land and Epirotans can live as free Hellenes!
A day for the next generations to remember, because freedom rarely comes overnight and never without protest and human sacrifice! We, the generations that live after the liberation should never forget what our ancestors had to endure for us to enjoy this freedom!
Syllogism – thoughtfulness – that this freedom should not be taken for granted! Not all Epirotan Hellenes can live and express themselves as freely, as the ones living in the Hellenic part of Epirus! Enemies and dangers to freedom and liberty are unfortunately always lurking around the corner!
It is indicative that 108 years after the liberation of Ioannina, the Hellenic Republic still has to fight for its sovereignty against Turkish aggression.
It is up to us and the coming generations to safeguard this freedom and this liberty!
In memory of all the humans who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Ioannina, MEMORY ETERNAL, ΑΙΩΝΙΑ Η ΜΝΗΜΗ!
For the Panepirotic Federation of America John Katsimbaris President
Today, It has been 80 years since Ioannis Metaxas and the Hellenic Nation cried out “OXI” to the fascist nvaders of our country!
The strength of our people fighting the intruders didn’t derive from strong and mighty weapons, it emanated from their heart and inner spirit to defend their Nation, protect their families, the land of their ancestors, and the Hellenic identity! This is a ‘strength’ that weapons cannot match!
Our beloved Epiros was in the forefront of the battles! The Italian artillery started pounding on the Epirotic mountains in Kalpaki early in the morning of October 28th, 1940! A piece of unprecedented history was about to be written. The Hellenic Forces not only defended their positions, but also managed to counter attack and liberate the land of Northern Epiros! One-by-one the North Epirotic cities and towns of Korytsa, Premeti, Delvino, Aghioi Saranta, Argyrokatro and Himara were seeing the soldiers of the VIII (8th) division of the Hellenic Army liberate them!
It was not ‘just’ a victory for the Hellenic Nation; it was the first victory against the advancing axis powers in Europe. People of nations like Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and others, which were under Nazi occupation, saw for the first time a spark against the axis powers, a slap on Mussolini’s & Hitler’s ‘face’! Subsequently, Hitler had to delay his invasion of the Soviet Union by 3 months in order to ‘capture’ Greece first, with all the consequences of battling during the Russian winter and of the historical defeats that followed.
Today, I commemorate my grandfather Ioannis, who fought with the 51st Battalion in the battle of Vasilitsa under Colonel Davakis and in the battle of Premeti under General Katsimitros! As Hellenes, we commemorate our ancestors fighting for our Nation and our Ideals! As Americans, we commemorate the Hellenic struggle, which consequently lead to the liberation of Europe from the axis powers! As citizens of the world, we commemorate the Hellenic spirit, which initiated the defeat of fascist and nazi ideologies!
The lessons of ‘OXI’ day are today more contemporary than ever! Let the struggle of our ancestors and the battles in the blood drained land of Epiros be a reminder to every aggressor and invader that the Hellenic spirit of humans defending their freedom and ideals cannot be defeated by weapons or other material means!
ΖΗΤΩ Ο ΕΛΛΗΝΙΣΜΟΣ! ΖΗΤΩ ΤΟ ΕΘΝΟΣ!
Ioannis (John) Katsimbaris President of Panepirotic Federation of America
The Panepirotic Federation of America is appalled by the decision of Mr Erdogan and the Turkish authorities to initiate the use of Aghia Sophia of Constantinople as a mosque.
Aghia Sophia was declared a museum by Kemal Ataturk for a reason!
It was a turning point of the Turkish state and society, bringing the country closer to humanistic and democratic principles of the western world.
Aghia Sophia was treated as ‘spoils of war’ by the Ottoman Muslims, the way barbaric traditions were performed by humans during that era. Many of its marvelous frescos, iconographies and mosaics were destroyed or covered with plaster, a primitive way to show power and imperialist supremacy!
Human soul and behavior has evolved since the 15th century and mankind does not need primitive ways to show superiority.
Islam has its own architectural wonders, does it really need to steal from Christianity, occupy a Christian Cathedral in order to feel superior? Don’t the Turkish authorities and Mr. Erdogan understand that it is actually their own religion they are offending by using a ‘former’ Christian Cathedral for their prayers and rituals, as if they do not have any monumental mosques built exclusively for that purpose?
Even if immature Ottoman rulers behaved as such 500+ years ago, do Turkish leaders have to repeat such primitive behavior over again in the 21st century?
As Hellenes from the region of Epiros, we know what inhumane conditions our ancestors had to endure under Ottoman Islamic rule. It is just over a century that most of Epiros was liberated from Ottoman occupation. The remnants of autocratic oppression can be seen in form of monuments on Epirotan soil!
Mr. Erdogan does not respect the dignity and human rights of his own citizens, why would he respect the dignity of monuments of some other religion. He is unfortunately repeating the mistakes of the Ottomans namely, oppression, brutality, violence, imperialism! He is catapulting Turkish society 500+ years back! We urge him to look into the translation of the formal Cathedral and museum he is undignifying, “Aghia Sophia” the “Holy Wisdom”! Even a minuscule piece of wisdom should be enough to let Mr Erdogan and the Turkish authorities rise to the expectations of the 21st century!
Kemal Ataturk brought Turkey to the 20th century by making Aghia Sophia into a museum. He reached out a hand of friendship to the multiple ethnicities of Constantinople alias Istanbul and to the developed world. He rose to the expectations of his era! Recep Tayip Erdogan is catapulting a whole state and society back to the 15th century!
Aghia Sophia of Constantinople was not the first former Christian Church to have been converted into a museum and reconverted into a mosque by the Turkish authorities under Mr Erdogan. Aghia Sophia of Trabzon, a small church from the 13th century, had the same fate 7 years ago! Evidently, it was a tryout, the world did not protest much. Various other reconversions followed.
The Turkish authorities under Mr Erdogan have shown that, as also in the case of pastor Andrew Brunson in 2017, they will not budge from their extremist and primitive acts if there is no international pressure from countries they fear. In 2017, President Trump managed to take actions that lead to the release of pastor Brunson!
President Trump, as Americans, citizens and residents of this great nation, roughly 3.5 million Americans of Greek decent, many from the region of Epiros, look up to You for leadership concerning Aghia Sophia! President Trump, take action, do the right thing!
The Panepirotic Federation of America (PFA) came under new leadership on Sunday, July 19th, 2020, after the scheduled departure of its long time president Nikos Gatzoyiannis (Nicholas Gage). The new president is John Katsimbaris, a senior consulting engineer in the automotive industry in Detroit.
“Mr. Gatzoyiannis agreed to serve a fifth term at our last convention on the understanding that he would leave halfway through his term to open the way for younger members to lead the organization,” Mr. Katsimbaris, whose parents are from the Konitsa region of Epiros, said. “As our fiscal year ended on June 30, he informed us at a board meeting on June 28 that this would be a good time to make the transition.”
Mr. Katsimbaris, the former PFA vice president, officially took over the leadership of the organization yesterday when he was sworn in as the new president. Replacing him as vice president is George Nanis, a real estate executive from Worcester, MA, who served in the same post from 2015 to 2018.
“Both John and George have worked closely with me over the years to protect the people of Northern Epiros and to promote the development of free Epiros,” Mr Gatzoyiannis said. “They are well equipped to lead the Panepirotic Federation into the future boldly and effectively.”
Mr. Katsimbaris, praised the contributions of Mr. Gatzoyiannis as PFA president during two terms in the 1990s and three in the new millennium. “Nick made the Federation highly respected in Washington, deeply admired in Athens and greatly feared in Tirana,” he said. “He leaves it well organized, solidly financed, and effectively positioned to carry out its mission in both parts of Epiros. Of course, he leaves the presidency, not the Federation. We will continue to count on him for advice and support.”
“I think one of Nick’s most important achievements was to bring into the Federation young, American-born members and inspire them to care about their ancestral homeland the way their parents did,” Mr. Nanis said. “That’s no easy task, as other groups have found out.”
Mr. Katsimbaris, whose father worked for the Greek Foreign Ministry, was born in Constantinople in 1968 and educated in Greece, Germany and the Netherlands. He speaks Greek, English, German and Dutch and has degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering.
Married to the former Andrea Feles, he has been active throughout his adult life in both Europe and the United States in promoting Greek national issues, especially those involving both parts of Epiros.
Among the noted Americans whose parents come from Epiros are Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic Party candidate for president, George Tenet, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, actress and producer Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks, and the late actor and director John Cassavetes, whose father was one of the founders of the Panepirotic Federation of America in 1942
From left to right: Ioannis (John) Katsimbaris, Vice President, Nicholas Gage, President, Aleka Kaloudelis, Secretary General, Ambassador Yuri Kim, Menelaos Tzelios, former President
The board officers of the Panepirotic of America met with H.E. Ambassador Yuri Kim, U.S. Ambassador to Albania and discussed various issues concerning ethnic Greeks in Northern Epirus and throughout Albania. One of the topics discussed was the draft of the new property law in Albania. The Panepirotic Federation of America believes that while the law is not perfect, it is a vast improvement of the mess of regulations now in effect. It offers all Albanians, including ethnic Greeks, the best chance to gain title to their property in 30 years. In fact, the law was drafted with the advice of American legal experts including Simos Dimas, whose family comes form Himara, after consultation with Greek leaders in Albania including Himara as well as the Himara Society of America.
Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Nicholas Gage at the Blair House, the U.S. president’s guest house, in Washington D.C. on January 7th, 2020. The two men discussed Greek-U.S. relations & policies and national issues such as the North Epirotan minority cause.
“Epirotes Oust Three Dissidents Who Formed Separatist Group”
WORCESTER, MA—The Panepirotic Federation of America (PFA) held a board meeting here Saturday afternoon and expelled two board members and an alternate for secretly trying to establish a separatist organization in violation of the Federation’s constitution. The board members are Kostas Tsiouris and Anna Noti, both of New York, and the alternate is Menelaos Sotiris of Boston.
The PFA was established here in 1942 by members who traced their origins to Epiros, a region that has had a Greek identity since Homer’s time but whose northern half was given to Albania after the country was created in 1913. Throughout its history the Federation spoke with one voice and pursued a united policy in defending the rights of their compatriots in Northern Epiros and promoting the culture of all of Epiros in the United States.
On October 12 a small group of separatists met in New York and announced the formation of the Northern Epirot Federation of America (NEFA) “to claim the rights of the Northern Epirots and to preserve the culture of Epiros.”
The rogue movement was immediately condemned by Epirot leaders. “We consider this effort misguided, divisive, and certain to weaken, not strengthen, the goals that the group says it advocates,” declared Nicholas Gage, PFA president. “Since Epirots began coming to the United States, they have been trying to help their homeland as one people and one community, united in 1942 under the Panepirotic Federation of America.
“To create a new fringe Federation for only one part of Epiros only serves the goals of our adversaries to weaken us by dividing us, and we urge its members to consider carefully the dangerous course they have chosen,” he declared.
Chris Dimou, president of the World Council of Epirots Abroad, issued a statement calling on Northern Epirots “to reject division and fear and embrace unity and cooperation.”
Rev. Kosmas Karavelas, president of the Himariotan Society of America (HSA), also stated that HSA “categorically rejects any movement that divides the efforts of Epirotans to address the problems of property ownership, minority rights, education and the preservation of our ethnic Greek culture in Albania.”
At the board meeting, Kostas Tsiouris, a founding member of the new Federation, argued that NEFA was not in conflict with PFA and he saw no reason why officers in one couldn’t be board members of the other.
Dimitrios Tsoumbanos, a former president of PFA, pointed out that the reason was in the PFA constitution that prohibits officers and board members from belonging to organizations that do not support PFA policies, which NEFA advocates clearly don’t, if they feel the need to form a new federation.
Menelaos Tzelios, another former president, asked Mr. Tsiouris to name the ten chapters he declared at the Oct. 12 meeting were members of the new organization. He refused. A survey of PFA chapters established that not one has held a general assembly to discuss possible membership in the rogue federation and to vote to join it.
Mr. Gage noted that the creation of a new federation was especially unfortunate now, because the PFA was working closely with the new government in Athens to pursue a common policy that will secure for Greeks in Northern Epiros basic rights due them including property rights, language and cultural rights and the right to identify themselves as Greeks without fear of recrimination. He said he had met personally with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 15 to discuss those issues.
Mr. Tsiouris said he and his group intend to pursue their own agenda on their own terms but would not provide specifics.
Mr. Gage questioned Mr. Tsiouris as to why he felt the need, other than ego, to form a new federation, considering how successful the PFA has been defending the people of Northern Epiros including in the mid 1990s when former Albanian leader Sali Berisha launched a pogrom to drive ethnic Greeks out of the region. PFA leaders sprang into action, he noted, persuaded Washington to freeze loans to Albania and to call for new elections. “The Berisha party lost decisively and its leaders knew why,” he said. “ Baksim Gazedete, the head of Albanian intelligence, went before the Albanian parliament and declared: ‘The Panepirotic Federation is responsible for the fall of the Berisha government.’”
Mr. Tsiouris dismissed PFA’s achievements. “Then why would you want to stay a member of its board?” Mr. Tsoumbanos asked.
Ms. Noti urged officers and board members from Northern Epiros to express their views, and they all declared that they saw no need for a new federation, and that its existence would harm the Epirot cause. “It’s obvious that we will gain the most if we stay united,” Olga Fotos, the PFA treasurer, stated.
In the end the vote was unanimous to expel the three dissidents.