Well the summer of 2000 is over and autumn has slowly made its presence upon us. I hope everyone had a great and enjoyable summer and that you found some time to relax or go on vacation. There were many interesting events, which took place over the summer, pertaining to Kapetan Zaharias, which we feel that it will have a positive impact on elevating the history of Zaharias in the near future. In this edition, we have complete coverage of all of these events for Zaharias, as well as other various events, which took place this past summer.
“OPEN FORUM” IN VARVITSA
On the evening of Sunday, August 13, in the Village Square of Varvitsa, there was an event that was scheduled to take place pertaining to Kapetan Zaharias. This event was going to be in the shape of an “open forum”, where participants would exchange ideas and views of how we can elevate the history of Zaharias.
Unfortunately, the open forum did not happen, as we would have liked, in that there was no real open forum gathering for the purpose of exchanging views and ideas. There was however, a speech made by Donald McPhail and myself stressing the need to educate and elevate the history of Zaharias to the audience of Varvitsa. The speeches went very well and the large audience that had gathered that evening was very receptive to the substance of what we said. Before we made our speeches, there was some speeches made by the Cultural Society of Varvitsa and its President Mr. Ioannis Kourtsounis. The Cultural Society of Varvitsa announced that the Village Square will be named Kapetan Zaharias. We applaud this decision and we feel that this is something that will have a positive impact and that it will lead to greater things in the future.
The event was not a total loss, since we were able to talk to many individuals who were present at the Village Square. These same individuals not only showed their enthusiasm for the work we are trying to accomplish, but also they presented to us their own views and thoughts about elevating the history of Zaharias. In addition, after all of the speeches were completed, there was a “panigiri” or festival, which had great entertainment, good food and plenty of dancing. Many of the Skoura-Varvitsiotes who were present that evening came from Canada or the United States. All of us had a great and wonderful time partying in Varvitsa. Finally, I like to thank Takis Nikolopoulos, who is President of the Logastra Society in the US, for attending the “open forum” event and the festival in Varvitsa.
Here then is the speech from me.
The time has come to wake up. The time has come to unite. The time has come to show the Greek community and the rest of the world who we are.
We can do so much good for our villages, which the end result would be to raise them to greater heights. We have the greatest weapon in which we have never used. And that weapon is our glorious history. We have one of the greatest heroes in Modern Greek History, Kapetan Zaharias.
By elevating the history of Kapetan Zaharias, we elevate our villages for the better. Together, we can work hard and organize for this great cause. We must be able to make the history of Kapetan Zaharias not only Panhellenic but also worldwide. In addition, we must teach our children of this history so that they never forget.
Many children here in Greece and in the Greek Diaspora don’t even know who Kolokotronis was, therefore it is vital that we don’t allow the same thing to happen to our children. They must understand the history from where they came from and their roots, so that they can pass it on to the next generation. The children are our future, and by understanding where they came from in the past, then they will know where they are heading in the future.
With the history, we can say that we have an identity. There is a need for identity, because whenever I turn on the Greek television and see some sort of documentary about history or about a certain village, its always going about Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus or the islands --- good for them. I hardly see anything on Laconia. Don’t we have history, don’t we have culture, don’t we have heroes?
Many parts of Greece and around the world associate themselves with a certain hero. So much so, that if the hero becomes very well known, then the hero and the village becomes synonymous. Examples of this are: France and Napoleon, Macedonia and Alexander the Great, Athens and Perikles, Epirus and Ali Pasha, Sparta and Leonidas. Why not then for the whole world to say Laconia and Zaharias or Peloponnese and Zaharias or Greece and Zaharias.
This past year I became president of the Skoura-Varvitsa Brotherhood USA. I did not accept this position for the “chair”, or for the power, or for the title, or for the glory. I did it because I know that I can make a difference in a big way, and that I can contribute and help out the organization and that I have good intentions. Also, I have the will to do all this.
One of the goals that we have is to try to bring back the younger generation to the Brotherhood, because all of knows that without them, there is no future. It’s always good to think about and focus on the present, but we must always have one eye open on the future. We must also communicate with the younger generation. And we must do this with many different methods, either personally, by mail, through the newspaper, or through the internet. Without communication we are all lost. Tell our young folks about our glorious past, the history from our villages and their roots. These tasks we know for a fact will be very difficult. But they must be accomplished and they will be accomplished and we will succeed.
In addition, we must set aside goals which would enable us to show the world about our history and culture. Let us show what it means to be from Skoura-Varvitsa, from Lygerea, from Laconia. We have a difficult workload ahead of us, but without work you can’t do anything in life, without work we are all lost.
All of the things that I do for Zaharias and for the Brotherhood, I do it because I love it and because I have the will for it. I don’t accept monetary compensation, and I don’t ask for any money because I don’t do it for the money. There are people in today’s world who work for a certain well worthy cause without getting one drachma. These philanthropist do it out of their nature of their own good heart and their own good soul. All of the things that we have done so far, and all of the things that we will do in the future, we do it for our villages.
Now I would like to mention two major goals, which we believe will help our villages. First, there should be a unification (brotherhood) between the villages of Skoura-Varvitsa and Lygerea-Skoufomiti. Κapetan Ζaharias believed in a federation and in unity. This unity will bring strength and we will be much more powerful to go up against any problems or obstacles which we will face together. In unity there is strength. Our villages have a common history --- the history of Kapetan Zaharias. That is why the time has come for all of us to unite together and help out each other. All of Laconia and the entire Greek world will be talking about us. Even the church will be talking about us, in which they will say «this is part of being a christian».
The other goal is the formation of an association (organization) for Zaharias, which will be named International Kapetan Zaharias Association. This association will be worldwide and its major function will be to raise awareness of the history of Zaharias, along with the preservation of various artifacts, documents and other sources. Also, the association will educate to the entire Greek world about the history of Zaharias.
Other projects that will be directly related from the association will be the recording of the songs of Kapetan Zaharias on CD. In addition, many of us know the fact that Zaharias formed a klephto-armatoli federation with the purpose of freeing Greece from the Turkish yoke. With this federation, he had his own army, police force, judicial system, he built churches, schools, he even had a postal service. In essence, he formed a country within a country. And because he formed a country within a country, and at the same time, he would gather all the klephtes from the Peloponnese and would rule from Varvitsa or Skoufomiti, then there must be a recognition of Varvitsa and Skoufomiti as the first capitols of Greece.
Without Kapetan Zaharias, Greece would not exist today !
By elevating the history of Zaharias, we will be able to elevate our villages. We will be able to have many windows of opportunity and open up many doors for our villages. One of those will be the possibility of tourism. Greeks and foreign tourists will visit our villages so that they can see and experience the areas in which Zaharias lived and was based at. There many small villages here in Greece which have tourism, like for example, Geraki. Therefore, why shoudn’t we ?
By elevating and teaching this history in Greece and abroad, then our villages become synonymous and link themselves with Zaharias. The whole world will recognize this fact and people will want to visit the villages associated with Zaharias.
Let us all proceed with this grand project, for our villages, for our children, for our identity, for our history and culture, for Zaharias.
Long live Kapetan Zaharias ! Long live Skoura-Varvitsa ! Long live Lygerea-Skoufomiti !
Long live Logastra ! Long live Laconia ! Long live Greece !
KAPETAN ZAHARIAS BUS TRIP
On Saturday August 5, about 150 people (mostly from the Greek Diaspora) travelled from Varvitsa on buses for a trip to visit some of the sights related to Kapetan Zaharias. Not all of the visitors were from Varvitsa. There were many who came from other parts of Laconia as well as other parts of Greece.
The first stop on this trip was Lygerea-Skoufomiti. They were received by the President of the Cultural Society of Lygerea «Kapetan Zaharias», Mr. Donald McPhail. The guests then boarded cars and other vehicles (there was a sufficient number of vehicles waiting for the visitors to arrive), in which they were driven to Skoufomiti to see the sites pertaining to Kapetan Zaharias. It is a known fact that Zaharias lived in Skoufomiti from the end of 1786 to his assasination. The visitors were able to see the forts which Zaharias built in Skoufomiti and the area known as «Halasmata tou Zaharia». In addition, the visitors took a tour of the church Panagitsa, which was built by Zaharias. All of the areas they visited had breathtaking views of the countryside. After the tour in Skoufomiti, the visitors were treated to a big breakfast, which was held at the recently renovated school in Lygerea.
The next stop for the visitors was the village of Zaharias (formerly known as Libohova), which was the site where Zaharias was assassinated. This village, which is a stone throw away from the village of Tseria, appropriately changed its name to honor and pay respect to the great hero Kapetan Zaharias. The stop over in the village of Zaharias was also accomponied by visitors from Lygerea. It must be mentioned here that the village is part of the district of Kardamili (formerly it was part of Tseria), which is located in Exo Mani or sometimes known as Messenia Mani, since it is not part of Laconia, but part of the prefecture of Messenia.
As they approached the fort where Zaharias was assassinated, the visitors were greeted by political and church dignitaries from the region. The diginitaries included the mayor of the region Mr. Ioannis Marabeas, the President of the Cultureal Society of Tseria based in Athens, Mr. Elias Bakeas, and Fr. Bakeas (regional priest). The visitors got a chance to actually tour inside the fort were Zaharias was assassinated and see the actual spot of this tragic event in Greek history. The fort is owned by Stavriano Katsirea, who has named it «fort of Zaharias». Mr. Katsirea is an artist and a sculptor, and he has personally painted a portrait of Zaharias, which hangs in the living room within the fort, and has created a bust of Zaharias that is positioned near the spot of his assassination.
After the tour, there was a wreath laying ceremony to honor and pay respect to Kapetan Zaharias. Wreaths were laid by the President of the Cultural Society of Varvitsa, Mr. Ioannis Kourtsounis, and the Vice President of the Cultural Society of Lygerea, Mr. Harilaos Demakakos. After the ceremony, speeches were made expressing gratitude for this historic and important event. In the end, all who were present in the village, pertaining to this event, went to Kardamili for a midday meal at a fine restaurant.
This was a major and historical event, in which its main purpose was to educate and show the people some of the sites related to the history, the life and the death of Kapetan Zaharias. We hope that by taking this big step, it will lead to other events like this in the near future, which would educate the people even further and deeper. The bus trip event was very well organized and a success in that it achieved its main purpose, which was to educate the people and to keep the spirit of Zaharias alive. Congratulations to everyone who played a role in organizing and putting this event together, especially to Mr. Donald McPhail who played a major role and worked tirelessly in making this event a reality and a success.
PAN-LACONIAN CONVENTION 2000
This past July, the city of Sparta was host to the 53rd annual Pan-Laconian Convention, which was attended by many Laconians from the United States, Canada, and Australia. Many activities were done during the duration of the convention.
There were many diginitaries who were present at the convention in Sparti including the Governor of Laconia and the Mayor of Sparta. Also, the convention was honored with the presence of the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Mr. Nicholas Burns, who was the main speaker at the banquet, which was attended by over 500 people.
At the end of the Convention, they were able to visit the monastery of Golas, located on the Taygetos Mountains. They were received by the Mayor of Faridos, who gave a reception in the village of Goranos.
It must be mentioned that the next convention in Sparta will be held in the year 2004. This is part of the bylaws of the Pan-Laconian Federation.
There were also elections which were held at the convention. The elected officials from the convention are as follows; Supreme President, Athena Glekas-Konditsioti, U.S. Vice President, Theodore Tsafatinos, Vice President of Canada, Peter Rizakos, Secretary, Peter Lilardis, Treasurer, Nicholas Pristouris.
As far as elections for the regional vice presidents are concerned, they are as follows; New York, Takis Nikolopoulos, New England, Georgia Rozanitis, Maryland/Washington D.C./Virginia, Louis Kanaras, Southern States, Steve Katsugkrakis, Midwestern States, Peter Mahairas, Canada, Tom Sotirakos, Greece, Avrilia Vlahakis.
Other elections: Director of Projects, Kostas Plagianis, Director of Education, Peter Panagoulias, Historian and Commander of the Knights and Ladies of Sparta, Paraskevas P. Michael.
Congratulations to all who were elected. We would like to wish them good luck, and great success with their term. We hope that they would all work together closely and very hard towards building a strong organization and for a better greater Laconia.
EVENTS FOR SKOURA-VARVITSA BROTHERHOOD USA AND CANADA
The end of the year is fast approaching, which means that many organizations and societies will be having their annual dinner dances or end of the year parties. For the Skoura-Varvitsa Brotherhood of the United States and Canada, this «custom» is no exception.
The Skoura-Varvitsa Brotherhood of the United States will hold its annual dinner dance on Saturday October 21, 2000 (one day prior to the birthdate of Kapetan Zaharias of October 22, 1759). The venue for this event will be in Merrick, Long Island at the downstairs room underneath the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios and is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm. There will be plenty of food, music and dancing. We will have a tribute to honor one of the greatest heroes in Greek Modern History, Kapetan Zaharias.
As far as Canada is concerned, the Skoura-Varvitsa Brotherhood of Toronto will have its annual dinner dance on Sunday, November 19, 2000 at the Crystal Fountain Banquet Hall, located at 60 McDowell Gate, Markham, Ontario. This year marks the 40th anniversary since the formation of the Brotherhood in Toronto.
In Montreal, the Skoura-Varvitsa Brotherhood will have its annual dinner dance on Saturday November 4, 2000 at the Palace Reception Hall.
Let us all try to attend these major events. We should always support and help out the Brotherhood because by doing so we show the whole Greek Community how strong we are and how proud we are that we come from these villages. But we must also do this for our children, so that they know and realize where their roots are from, and at the same time, they will be able to socialize and meet other young folks who come from the same villages. In this way we build for the future, and maybe our children will support and be involved with the Brotherhood some day.