A project years in the making is coming to fruition in the form of an exhibition called “The Hour of Greece,” featuring hundreds of items from the personal collection of Pappas Post Publisher Gregory C. Pappas that tell the story of the American response to Greece’s role in World War II.
The exhibition is being organized by the Athens-based Hellenic American University with support from the New York City-based Greek America Foundation and will open in late October 2019 (date to be announced) and run through Christmas.
More than 300 items will be on display at 22 Massalias Street in Athens — the building that former US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns once called one of Athens’ two iconic buildings epitomizing the close relationship between the United States and Greece (the other building he mentioned was the US Embassy).
The exhibition includes memorabilia, war relief posters and other rare items demonstrating the close relationship between the two nations during WWII.
According to Pappas, “The Hour of Greece” aims to tell the story of an entire nation of Americans coming together to support the Greek cause after watching in awe as tiny, ill-equipped Greece pushed the Italians back in October 1940.
“The Amazing Greeks Win Freedom’s First Victory,” said Life Magazine in one of its issues that features in the exhibition. The New York Times carried an editorial in December 1940 calling it “The Hour of Greece.”
Complementing the pieces from Pappas’ personal collection will be select items from the National Archives of Greece, including letters then Greek prime minister Tsouderos received from American president Franklin Roosevelt. The collection also includes pages from the diary of Greek premier Ioannis Metaxas from the days following his historic “No!” to the Italians on October 28, 1940.
Pappas said he is looking forward to sharing “such an important yet little-known” part of Greek American history with the public.
“I’m honored that this exhibition will be hosted by the Hellenic American University, an important organization that has built educational and cultural bridges between the people of two countries that comprise my personal make up — Greece, the country of my heritage, and the United States, the country of my birth,” Pappas added.
During WWII, hundreds of millions of dollars were raised by average Americans while the entire Hollywood community embraced the Greek war relief cause, hosting telethons headlined by stars like Bob Hope and Judy Garland and concerts at Madison Square Garden featuring singers like Frank Sinatra.
The Greek American community played a decisive role in organizing and planning the campaign, including outstanding leaders such as then president of Fox Films Spyros Skouras and Archbishop Athenagoras.
Both men led tens of thousands of supporters in hosting coin-collections at restaurants, theater and dance performances and dozens of events that raised tens of millions for the people of Greece.
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