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Thank you, America

THIS YEAR'S July 4th celebration marks the 240th anniversary of independence for the United States – the transformation of a colony into a free country, which, following colossal struggles, a bloody civil war, and much internal strife, developed into a superpower that opened its doors to the hungry and oppressed from all over the world. This is an unprecedented accomplishment in human history.

America’s amazing progress is due in large part to the labors of its workforce, as well as the Constitution, which remains essentially the same and has been respected for 240 years. It guarantees not only individual liberties. It is the only Constitution in the world that recognizes the right to the pursuit of happiness for all the citizens – white, black, yellow, and other people of color.

The 240th anniversary of America’s Independence affords the Greek-American Community a special opportunity to celebrate this major historical event together with the entire nation, and to express its gratitude to this country for opening its arms to welcome Greek immigrants. They arrived here penniless, illiterate, and in many cases persecuted by other countries.

Those Greek-American pioneers laid the groundwork for our progress. They worked countless hours under very poor conditions, and their primary concern was to help those whom they had left behind, at great personal cost to themselves; to provide dowries for their sisters…People without any job training managed to start businesses, formed associations and local communities, and built churches. Reaffirming the traditions and customs of their homeland, they became exceptional and proud U.S. citizens, and noteworthy members of American society. They put their children through college, and now the second and third generation has gained prominence in every sector of public life. We came an inch away from the presidency of the United States!

In this way, the Greek-American Community provided financial assistance to the homeland and stood by its side during wars and national disasters. We became a great financial and social force, with representation in Congress and the ability to influence the nation’s public affairs and policy in regards to Greece and Cyprus.

This year’s celebration is a good time to proclaim our faith to the common ideals of Greece and America. It is the most appropriate time to give a great big “thank you” to this country for all that it has offered the Greek-American Community and for all that it has done for Hellenism.

It is also a good time to condemn the anti-American sentiments that are reflected in the unacceptable statements made by well-known Greeks, politicians, journalists, and intellectuals who disgrace us in the eyes of our fellow American citizens.

 

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■ By Takis Mihas

Greek Kourabie in… Colombia

MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA.- The thriving city of 4 million inhabitants in northern Colombia, has undoubtedly changed dramatically over recent years. Once the headquarters of the so-called “Medellin Cartel” (of drugs) and of the infamous Pablo Escobar, the city was plagued every day by violence, bombs and kidnappings. But those things belong to the past, hopefully for good. Today, most of the city is safe for walking, and because of its climate and educated workforce, it is becoming a magnet for foreign investment and for American expats seeking a better quality of life and creative opportunities.

But for me, as a Greek, Medellin hid another surprise: Finding the shelves of the local supermarkets well-stocked with a par excellence Greek product: kourabie! And, moreover, this product is not only found here during the Christmas celebrations—as is the case in Greece—but throughout the whole year. Here, however, this product is known mostly as “galletas con almendras” (“almond cookies”).

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"Yes, the Colombians have a problem pronouncing the K sound; that is why we market them as galletas,” Spiros Gongas tells us. Mr. Gongas is one of the owners of Greco S.A., the company that produces and markets the kourabie in Colombia. Today his company is producing 60 tons of kourabie monthly, most of it for domestic consumption. A part is also exported to neighboring countries like Panama and Ecuador. ”We hope to expand our exports,“ he tells us, “and also reach the U.S. market.” Today, Greco S.A. is distinguished as the most important company in the fine-cookies segment. It is part of a group of companies with economic activities in textiles, abrasives, food and distribution. The group has direct activities in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and México.

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Candy Exhibition at the Hellenic Museum in Chicago

NHM’s candy exhibition highlights contributions of the Greek American community

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Princess Candy Store in Bloomington, IL, 1918.

CHICAGO, IL – Discover why Chicago is known as “America’s candy capital” as the traveling exhibit, Sweet Home Chicago, makes a stop at the National Hellenic Museum this summer.
Chicago has been at the forefront of America’s candy scene since the late 1800s when the first wave of Greek immigrants arrived in the Windy City and started opening candy and ice cream shops throughout the city.

In 1906, «The Greek Star,» one of America’s oldest Greek language newspapers, reported there were 925 Greek-owned candy and ice-cream businesses in Chicago.

The exhibit, created by the Elmhurst Historical Museum, takes on a decidedly Greek twist thanks to the National Hellenic Museum’s extensive collection of candy, ice cream, and restaurant artifacts that tell the story of some of Chicago’s most famous Greek-owned establishments and businesses.

Learn the story of Leo Stefanos, who invented Dove ice cream bars to keep his kids from chasing the ice cream truck down the street, and Peter George Poulos, who founded Margie’s Candies after learning the craft of candy making from his grandfather.

Visitors will enjoy a short documentary narrated by Bill Kurtis, interactive displays with nostalgic photos and artifacts, a Candy IQ Quiz, candy wrapping challenge, and many other fun and tasty activities.

The exhibit opened on June 16 and will make sure to come back on July 21 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm for a rooftop celebration with James Manolakos from PanHellenic Pastry Shop. Local candy makers and bakers will offer samples of their sweets and you’ll hear stories about the ways in which candy and ice cream has played a role in your own family traditions.