LOCAL GREEKS RESPOND

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One Hundred and Fifty Ready to Return and Fight Against Turkey

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All Over the United States Subjects Promptly Volunteer to Aid King George

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From the Atlantic to the Pacific the Greek residents of this continent are inspired by one all-powerful desire, and that is to respond without delay to their country’s appeal for the assistance of her sons whether at home or abroad.

Nowhere, perhaps, are the Greeks more eager to obey the call than in this City, though as stated in yesterday’s issue a dearth of ready money prevents the majority from immediately returning to their native land. But the leading members of the colony, in the persons of M. D. Vanvales, P. Vrettos, Demetrak, Damiarakis, Fundas, the brothers Demetriadis and Kosta, as well as the Hellenic Society as a whole, are determined to overcome this seeming obstacle with as little delay as possible, and the fact that yesterday was Sunday did not deter them from taking energetic action.

Early in the afternoon Messrs. Vrettos and Fundas called upon August Goustiaux, the acting Greek Consul at this port and after a brief consultation between these gentlemen it was determined to communicate with Hon. D. N. Botassi, the Greek Consul-General at New York, and inform him of the situation in this City. Vrettos, who is a member of the Grecian army reserve and a recognized leader of the local patriotic movement, stated authoritatively that in the event of transportation being provided, at least 150 of his countrymen in San Francisco would join the recruits who are hastening to New York from all parts of the United States. Acting Consul Goustiaux fully coincided with the suggestions of Vrettos and Fundas, and ten minutes later the following laconic but significant message was speeding along the wires to the Consul-General at New York:

Hon. D. N. Bottassi, Greek Consul-General, New York.

About 150 Greeks intend to return. What do you advise?

August Goustiaux, Acting Consul

Vrettos feels confident that the Consul-General will lose no time in arranging with the railway companies to transport the recruits to New York at special rates, and that if sufficient funds cannot be raised locally the home Government will see it to defray at least of the expense. If the assistance of the Greeks in this country is worth having at all it is certainly worth paying for, and there is no logical reason to doubt that the home Government is prepared for the contingency of this nature.

The excitement among the Greeks in this City is now raised to fever heat. Vrettos, himself a man of massive proportions, weighing 265 pounds, and like most persons of his avoirdupois ordinarily rather phlegmatic, found it difficult to express his feelings.

"Already," said he, "the Greeks in New York have started to leave for Greece and we chafe at the unavoidable delay here. The Greek paper, Atlantis, helped to defray the cost of transportation by raising a special fund of $1000. Unfortunately our countrymen here are comparatively poor and we are likely to experience some difficulty in paying for our own passage. But I am satisfied that the Consul-General will act immediately, because the number of recruits available all over the West will certainly make it worth his while to do so. We were pretty well excited before, but a direct appeal from our king has aroused us to a pitch of enthusiasm which no temporary difficulties can quell."

Acting Consul Goustiaux has occupied that position since 1894, when the former Consul, Pavlides, left San Francisco. Mr. Goustiaux is a Frenchman by birth, but is none the less ardently in sympathy with the cause of the Greek and Cretan patriots.

"I have just been reading The Call," he said yesterday, "and am greatly interested in the news that the Consul-General is communicating with the Greek Consuls in every part in America. As yet, however, I have not received any instructions from headquarters.

"Necessarily, I am strongly in sympathy with the Greeks in their projected struggle against Turkey and would like to see Greece and Crete united. Several years ago I believed that this laudable ambition was on the point of realization, but then as now the great powers of Europe declared an ultimatum and Greece was compelled to submit. At the same time it is quite evident that the people themselves in every part of Europe would welcome the union of Greece and Crete.

"The various governments, however, find themselves in an awkward position. Should war ensue and the Turks be driven from Europe, an attempt will doubtless be made by one or other of the powers to seize a portion if not all of Turkey for itself. Now if the powers as a whole do not protest against a war which bids fair to hasten the partition of Turkey, they can hardly logically protest at a future stage of the game. They must put themselves on record so to speak. So they now feel called upon to protest against the projected annexation of Crete by Greece. Perhaps, too, it is feared that the annexation of Crete would indirectly tend to confirm the English occupation of Egypt, which at present is tacitly agreed to by the powers.

"Of course these are merely my own individual opinions. I have no other sources of information than the general public who read the daily papers."

Mr. Goustiaux is now awaiting a reply to his telegram, which should be acknowledged at an early date, though it will not be possible for the Consul-General to make the necessary arrangements for transportation without some little delay.

The Hellenic Society will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the citation and contrive ways and means to supplement if necessary the action of the authorities.

The San Francisco Call, Monday, March 8, 1897

Reprinted in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, Vol. 5, No. 7, March 1998