A wonderful advantage of living in the United States, especially New York, is that we can vicariously travel the world with all the different cultures, religions and languages that we are exposed to here. Just as St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in our childrens' schools by wearing of green being that Greek Independence Day is hard for our children to grasp at a young age, I take this as an opportunity to instill pride and a looking forward to celebration. My children know that back in 1821, under the Ottoman empire, parents who were caught teaching their children Greek, were beaten and often killed. Hence, there was "to kreefo skoleio"...which means the Secret school, where children were taught our language in the churches or caves in the middle of the night. So, as much as my children may not like going to Greek school, they know what others had to go through to learn Greek. Because they are young, now is the time to instill this day as a day of celebration at new found freedom.
So, I remind my children and students as well that the Greek flag has nine lines for the Greek word Elef8eria which means freedom. The children come off there school bus to see blue and white balloons outside on the lamp post as well as nine balloons in the house with a cake made as the Greek flag. The first year I did this, they were all overjoyed and surprised. Since then they truly look forward to this day.
Essentially, regardless of whether you are trying to instill a love of the country, Israel, Italy, Spain or a part of Africa, it helps a child internalize it when we point out various holidays that may not be recognized strongly in the area you live in. This is part of America's beauty; We are able to enjoy and take pride in our roots that started in other countries. We will soon be participating in the Greek parade in Manhattan, where we have the opportunity many cultures do to offer some visual beauty of Greek ethnic costumes and a chance to enjoy a positive focus on Greece in these difficult times.
Today, I say, Zntw n Ellas (long live Greece), and God Bless America.