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The story of how Greek Nationalism followed the Greek Immigrants to the United States

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  1. Introduction
  2. The Rise of the 'Megali Idea'
  3. The ideology of Megali Idea
  4. The new Greek identity
  5. The first opportunities for Greece to expand
  6. The policy of Megali Idea
  7. Greek immigration to USA
  8. The heart of the Greek community
  9. Balkan war: The story of George Dilboy
  10. Megali idea: Success and failure
  11. Conclusion
  12. Bibliography

By the eve of the Greco-Turkish War of 1922, every Greek in the world understood and felt what the ?Megali Idea' meant. Under the leadership of Eleftherios Venizelos, Greece was on the verge of fulfilling Megali Idea in recreating a modern Byzantine Empire. But what exactly does Megali Idea mean? Megali Idea translates literally as the ?Great Idea.'(Glenny, 45). It is a term that scholars use to encompass all Greek irridentist claims to expand in order to incorporate all ethnic Greeks within her boundaries. It is a vision of an expanded Greek state with Greek Orthodoxy as its official religion, ?which aspired to the unification of all areas of Greek settlement in the Near East within the bounds of a single state, with its capital in Constantinople, dominated the independent state during the first century of its existence.?(Gerolymatos, 59). This irridentist claim was so influential in the late 19th century-early 20th century contemporary Greek society, that when ethnic Greeks immigrated to the United States in search of work, they kept this sentiment with them. Because of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, they were able to preserve the ideals of Megali Idea even in the United States. The preservation of Megali Idea among Greek immigrants felt was illustrated by the fact that many Greek-Americans returned to their homeland to fight for Greece in 1912. The main focus of this paper will be on George Dilboy, the main character of the biography Georgie! My Georgie!. Dilboy was a Greek-American who felt the calling of Megali Idea and returned to Greece to fight in the Balkan Wars. After describing the rise and fall of the concept of Megali Idea, we will thus conclude that Megali Idea not only stayed with Greeks when they immigrated to the United States, but is still echoed in conversations today.

[...] George and his family remained in Alatsata until 1908, when they decided to immigrate to the United States of America. Antonio's brother, Kostas, had immigrated the year before and sent letters home to Antonios and his family. They had heard of great opportunities that awaited them in the United States, with ?wages up to 4 times that they would receive in Athens.?(Brady, 74). Since the Dilboy's had eight children, it would be too expensive for the whole family to move to the United States. [...]


[...] His legacy remains as one of the greatest American soldiers to ever serve the army and he is regarded by Greek- Americans as who risked it all for both Greece and for the United States of America.(Brady, 502). Due to George and the rest of the Greek army, the kingdom of Greece was able to expand immensely. Within a month, Greek forces were able to capture Thessaloniki, the port city of Macedonia, and were able to liberate the Aegean islands of Chios, Mytilini and Samos. [...]


[...] Let us now turn our attention to the history of the Greek immigration the United States in order to fully understand why many Greek-Americans were able to return and fight for their homeland. Greek Immigration to USA The immigration of Greeks to America is a long history, one which spans over two centuries. There have been two major immigration waves of Greeks to America, which were in the 1890-1910 and the 1966-1982 time periods. However, the first Greek migration to America was in 1768, when a group of Greeks migrated from Smyrna and Crete? founded a colony in America. [...]

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