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AHI Commemorates 90th Anniversary of Smyrna Catastrophe with Memorial Ceremony at U.S. Diplomat’s Gravesite
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Georgea Polizos
October 31, 2012—No. 71 (202) 785-8430

AHI Commemorates 90th Anniversary of Smyrna Catastrophe with Memorial Ceremony at U.S. Diplomat’s Gravesite

Consul General Horton Remembered for Recording Firsthand Account of Catastrophe

WASHINGTON, DC —The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a memorial to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Smyrna catastrophe in Asia Minor at the gravesite of U.S. Consul General George Horton, whose book The Blight of Asia provided a firsthand account about the destruction of Smyrna and the plight of the Greeks of Smyrna. The memorial was held October 22, 2012, at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, DC.

The ceremony included a wreath-laying, a prayer, and brief remarks about Consul General Horton in appreciation of his telling account, received coverage in The Washington Times.

“We are grateful to Consul General Horton for properly recording the unfortunate and solemn truth about what transpired at Smyrna for future generations to realize and understand,” said AHI President Nick Larigakis.

In remarks, AHI Board Member James Marketos described the beauty of Smyrna at the time, the tragic ramifications upon Smyrna and the Greek people as a result of the catastrophe and the important role Consul General Horton played as witness and recorder of history.

“Thanks to George Horton, we know the truth about what happened in those dreadful days in Smyrna ninety years ago,” said Marketos. “But Horton’s testimony is useful not only for learning what happened in the past, and it is relevant beyond Greeks and Armenians.  His experience is obviously dated, but it speaks directly to the problems that plague us today.”

Also providing remarks were Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos and Greece’s Defense Attaché Col. Evangelos Papadopoulos.

Consul General Horton was serving at the consulate in Smyrna at the time of the catastrophe in 1922.  The New York Times reporting on the events in Smyrna quoted Consul General Horton in article dated September 21, 1922, “During my consulship at Saloniki I was bombed by Bulgars and Germans and during my official career I have had many rough experiences with submarines and fire, but never in my life have I seen anything like the Smyrna catastrophe…”

The Washington Times Coverage

AHI’s commemoration of the Smyrna catastrophe was covered in The Washington Times’ October 30, 2012 Embassy Row column by James Morrison. Under the heading “An Envoy Remembered,” the columnist writes: “Most historians blame Turkish forces for torching the city and killing tens of thousands of Greeks and Armenians, beginning on Sept. 9, 1922, at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. Hundreds of thousands of Smyrna’s residents crowded the city’s waterfront, desperate for evacuation as U.S. and other allied warships lay at anchor. Some historians say the allies had orders not to interfere with the destruction of the city.

“Horton wrote that the final episode of the elimination of the Christians from the old Byzantine Empire was the razing of Smyrna, located on Turkey’s Aegean coast and now within the boundaries of the Turkish city of Izmir.”

The American Hellenic Institute is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.

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For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.