OPINION

Letters to the Editor

Since 1962 my wife and I have made 23 trips to Greece, sometimes with our children, often staying for up to 11 weeks at a time. It has given us many opportunities to discuss world events with Greeks from various walks of life and has made us accept the gulf in thinking between the Greek point of view on the one hand, and the American point of view on the other. But after spending seven weeks in Greece during the September 11 tragedy, having gone out of my way to discuss with friends, relatives, and strangers the events of September 11, I was startled, dismayed, and saddened to find majority opinion to be that somehow America got what it deserved. Equally startling was the almost universal mouthing of inane conspiracy theories that not even a 10-year-old schoolboy would give credence to. This was fortified by the opinion poll your paper recently published. When you add to this the silly prattling of Theodorakis, who embarrassed himself in your paper, one must conclude that the gulf in thinking between Americans of Greek descent and majority opinion in Greece cannot be bridged. I am beginning to believe that the majority of Greek people cannot be Europeanized and remain Eastern in their thinking, much to their detriment. My wife and I have come to the point where it is perhaps time to lessen the emotional ties we have with Greece. It is said that the greatest sin is ingratitude. Our antidote to ingratitude is that uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving, where family and friends gather together not just to show gratitude for the abundance of life, but to affirm our love for each other, our hopes for the future, and to gather strength for the tasks ahead. It falls on me, as the oldest, to say a few words as we sit down to the traditional feast. Among the thoughts I conveyed to my children and grandchildren were these: Study about and be proud of your distant ancestors who contributed so much to humanism and civilization. Honor your forebears, whose heroism contributed to freeing Greece from the Turkish yoke and whose exploits are written down in our family archives. Especially honor your grandparents and great-grandparents who struggled and suffered so much to establish our family in the New World nearly 100 years ago. Keep a small warm place in your hearts for Greece and the Greek people and wish them well in all their aspirations, and let it go at that. And when asked what you are, simply say: I am an American. Homer Vasels Corona, California Suspects sought Nikos Konstandaras need also look at the bad side of November 17 (Milestones and Footnotes, November 24). This day signifies the birth of the murderous terrorist organization, 17 November. This organization is the main reason why many of Greece’s allies portray her as a country which tolerates terrorism to the point that some are recommending that the 2004 Olympics be moved somewhere else. Think about it. Are they so wrong? When a bomb went off in Oklahoma, the US almost immediately made their arrests and the terrorists were caught. In the Atlanta Olympics a bomb went off and they immediately arrested a suspect, found out they got the wrong man and then identified the right one. When the buildings in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia were hit, American authorities found out who it was and are now hunting him down with all their resources. Greece has had 25 years of terrorism and almost nothing has been done. Practically no results after over 110 terrorist acts! There is something very wrong! The government is not doing its job! Greek people and the media need to take political vengeance on government officials and hold them responsible. The Olympics will be a feast for any terrorist organization, including 17 November. I am extremely worried about Greek officials’ lackadaisical attitude toward this issue. They say that the situation is under control and that security at the Olympics will be very high. That is not enough! The Greek government needs to get serious about catching these terrorist criminals no matter how prominent they are in Greek society, what political view they may have, or what political party they may belong to. Remember, investors… will make their decisions based on risk. Terrorism makes Greece a high risk. It also influences the decisions of potential tourists and foreign diplomats forming their stance on issues between Greece and Turkey. Before 17 November can honestly become a day to rejoice, Mr Konstandaras and all Greeks need to forget about dreaming of the past and look into the future and how Greece will rid itself of the cancerous terrorist organization 17 November. John Myseros Centreville, Virginia Editor replies: The comment in question was about the struggle against the dictatorship and the myths that this has created, not about the terrorist gang that usurped the date of the Polytechnic uprising. Mr Myseros’s conclusions regarding our dreaming of the past while ignoring terrorism are perhaps the result of his reading the Washington Times more than Kathimerini English Edition. Drachma debate This summer, while in Greece, I read an article in your newspaper that mentioned that the oldest currency in Europe, the drachma, would disappear when the new currency was introduced. The article stated that the drachma was 2,500 years old. When I mentioned that to my friends on Samos, they said I was mistaken. They claim that the drachma is less than 200 years old. When I returned to the US, my Greek-American friends stated that the drachma was introduced after the war with Turkey, making it about 168 years old. I would think that Kathimerini would have the right information. Could you clear this up for me so that I can return to Samos in the summer and collect on some wagers? Thank you. Patrick Moyles via e-mail Editor replies: The drachma was the name of the main silver coin of several ancient Greek cities. Its earliest specimen found was minted on Aegina circa 670 BC. After a long interlude, the modern Greek State reintroduced the drachma in 1833 and it has stayed with us ever since. When you return next summer, of course, you’ll be buying drinks in euros.