Two Statues

JAN-FEB 2017|BY IRINI KARAJANI
Two statues, two faces, two people who each in their own way influenced the War of Independence in Greece, and their names: Edward Everett and Samuel Gridley Howe.

What has been left of them in Greece are two statues, but as Pericles once said “what you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” And what these two philhellenes have contributed is bigger than written words on paper or carved words on stone.

We are reminded of philhellenes like them, and like Lord Byron, and philhellenes whose names are not written in history, but whose contribution changed its course forever. A contribution not directly based on diplomatic or commercial interests but mostly in understanding the need to revolt and be free. American and European journalists, intellectuals and government officials—all with a love for Greek antiquity—expressed their support either verbally or in-kind for the War for Greek Independence.

One, Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), a doctor who left his country to serve in the Greek army, is remembered for his bravery and help to those in need. In 1824, following his studies, he visited Greece, to fight; to fight a war that was not his, neither by geography or by nationality. There he met Lord Byron who was a great inspiration to him. He went back to gather supplies and when he revisited Greece, he opened a medical center in Aegina and an agricultural township for immigrants in Corinth. In 1829, he left Greece but in 1866, after a cry for help from the Cretan people, he advocated to gather and sent supplies to help them. Dr. Howe was a true soldier in heart and spirit.

Edward Everett (1794-1865) was a different type of a soldier, but equally important for the Greek War of Independence. An orator, politician, professor and intellectual, he advocated for the freedom of the Greeks. Between teaching ancient Greek literature at Harvard, travelling across Europe where he met Lord Byron and being elected to represent the American nation, Everett never stopped influencing people and recognizing the fight of the Greeks. He published every letter relevant to the war and in 1823 gave a remarkable speech to promote and inspire support towards Greece.

What made these people contribute in this fight? Was it cultural ideologies, religious similarities, or the memory of their own fight for independence? By identifying themselves with a nation and fighting for a war that was not theirs, they were infusing the meaning of globalization as we know it. Aside from cultivating international relations and foreign policy, are “philhellenes” or “phil-every-nation,” what we need to be free? A friend of every nation who will look over the mountains and toward the sea and dream of freedom just like Lord Byron…

“The mountains look on Marathon
And Marathon looks to the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free…”
—Lord Byron

The statues of Samuel Gridley Howe and Edward Everett proudly stand in the public square of Tripolis, but are in need of repair and maintenance.

Business Partners thanks Artemis Zenetou, Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, for suggesting this Connect USA topic.

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