May 19, 2020
The Pontic Genocide
Today is a day that no Greek forgets. The Greek Pontic genocide. Over 350.000 people lost their lives. The Pontian genocide was the systematic killing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population carried out in Anatolia during World War I and its aftermath (1914–1922) on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish national movement against the indigenous Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Eastern Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments.
The suffering of the Pontian Greeks did not end upon their violent and forceful departure from the lands of their ancestors. Many Pontian Greek refugees perished during the voyage from Asia Minor to Greece. Notable accounts of these voyages have been included in Steve Papadopoulos' work on Pontian culture and history. Pontian Greek immigrants to the United States from that era were quoted as saying:
Many children and elderly died during the voyage to Greece. When the crew realized they were dead, they were thrown overboard. Soon the mothers of dead children started pretending that they were still alive. After witnessing what was done to the deceased, they would hold on to them and comfort them as if they were still alive. They did this to give them a proper burial in Greece.
After all the suffering Pontics have been through, it is our duty to never forget them. All over the world, there are so many of our own, who have a tragic past but stand and remember their history. So, if you still have your grandmothers and grandfathers, ask them for their stories and learn your own story on this planet. Cherish them and thank them for standing strong after their losses, after their hunger, after their suffering.
May 19th - We will always remember.