The event at the USS Constitution
The Pontian Society Panagia Soumela and the Boston Greek Consulate organized this session on the USS Constitution March 25, 2021. Among the honored guests was the Consul of Haiti, the first country to recognize the new nation of Greece after its independence. The Consuls General of Israel and Portugal were there as well.
In addition to the Consuls General, speakers included USS Constitution Commander John Benda, who wore the official 1812 U.S. Navy uniform, Boston Metropolitan Methodios, Boston Consul General Efthymiou, Panagia Soumela President Gialtouridis, USS Constitution Museum Director Anne Rand, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt, Greek-American Congressmen, Athens Mayor Bakoyannis and others. The focus of the presentation was on the role American philhellenes played in supporting the Greek Revolution and on the famous U.S. navy gunner George Sirian, a war orphan from Psara. Sirian's great great granddaughter, Dr. Jeanne McDougall of Norfolk, VA, presented virtually a poem and song she had composed for her ancestor.
The event can be seen in its entirety here: https://youtu.be/beEHdrI4wrE
Jeanne McDougall's tribute to her great great grandfather George Sirian as shown at the USS Constitution celebration on March 25, 2021.
Left: The meeting room where then USS Constitution Captain Daniel Todd Patterson hosted General Kolokotronis (1827) and Admiral Kanaris (1826) during the revolutionary war. The ship was policing the Mediterranean/Aegean to secure shipping lanes for foods and medicines. It rescued several Greek orphans and in 1827 visited Greek ports 14 times. (The captain's room door is on the right.)
Right: the Constitution's gunnery room under the ship's main deck, where Sirian worked. On the bottom right are the various shots used in the cannons.
The Museum's Sirian exhibits
USS Constitution Museum director Rand with the portrait of 10-year-old George Sirian, painted by New York artist C.C. Ingham in 1828.
Left: Sirian's 1886 prayer book.
Above: part of the museum's Sirian exhibit.
George (Σαρηγιάννης) Sirian served in the USS Constitution an unprecedented three times and had one of the longest careers in the U.S. Navy--52 years. Every September the navy presents the George Sirian Meritorious Service Award to an outstanding Chief Petty Officer selected from the worldwide U.S. fleet. The ceremonies take place aboard the USS Constitution. Sirian was inducted into the Surface Navy Hall of Fame in 2007. He still has relatives in Psara.
Clockwise from right top: George Sirian's wife, Eleanor, daughter of Sirian's gunnery mentor George Marshall from Rhodes; right above, Sirian's descendants visiting the "Turkish shot" at the Portsmouth, VA, Naval Yard; above left: a 1910 photo of Georgie Sirian (standing), son of Constantine Sirian and grandson of the original Sirian from Psara. Photos courtesy of Jeanne McDougall.
USS Constitution's 76th Commander, John Benda, in his 1812 U.S. Navy uniform, with Dr. Paraschos. As luck would have it, CDR Benda is married to a woman with a Greek last name. He promised to find out more about it....
The celebration on the deck of Old Ironsides, "The oldest and finest commissioned warship afloat in the world," as CDR Benda said.
One of the interviews for the Greek documentary was with former Gov. Mike Dukakis, who said he was surprised to learn of the involvement of the USS Constitution in the Aegean and Dr. Howe's rescue of Greek orphans.
"These are great stories of American history," he said. "Keep telling them."