The Hellenic Historic Monument

A significant number of Greek Utahns served in the United States military. Their sacrifice to protect the nation is honored at the Hellenic Historic Monument in Salt Lake City. How can this monument impact our appreciation for United States service men and women?

America experienced heightened nationalist ideology during World Wars I and II. As hysteria over the broader conflicts in Europe increased, xenophobia in the United States created strong inter-ethnic stress. In Utah, tension already existed in the industrial labor forces between Greeks, Americans, and other Eastern European immigrants at the start of the century. Lynchings were not widely publicized but nevertheless occurred in response to immigrant culture in the Salt Lake Valley. Greek immigrants were particularly targeted as un-American because they did not immediately desert their language and customs (often due to foundational religious beliefs), were involved in domestic labor strikes, and sent large amounts of money home. However, many Greeks were at the forefront of purchasing Liberty Bonds. Though criticized for not knowing English, Greek Newspapers (like O Ergatis) provided a resource to Greek-speaking immigrants to stay updated on war efforts in the United States.

Greek-Americans held an invested interest in World War I and II, regardless of their position on the conflict. Not only was America involved in the war, but so was their expatriate country – Greece. While many Greek Utahns joined the military by choice, others were drafted. The fairness of the draft was called into question when 221 of the 801 people in the Carbon County draft were Greek. Other members of the Greek community wanted to enlist, but were unable because they did not speak English. While many enlisted in the military to show their support for the war, others supported it through the Greek Orthodox Church. A parade was held from Price to the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church where speeches of patriotism were given and loyalty was pledged to the United States.

The wars significantly impacted Greek communities in Salt Lake City. Economically, the wars pushed copper miners and other industrial workers toward the city and into the middle class. This was partially due to the smaller number of more highly educated immigrants that came to Utah to be with family or friends who had already immigrated. Marriages decreased during the war (though they increased once the war had ended), and the Greek school located in the basement of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church became less important than Orthodoxy itself.

To honor the history of Greek Utahns that fought in World Wars I, II, and the Korean Conflict, as well as the resulting effects of the war, the Hellenic Cultural Association (HCA) erected the Hellenic Historic Monument. The monument names the thirty-eight Greek Utahns that lost their lives in World Wars I, II, and the Korean Conflict, including Private First Class Theodore C. Dimas. Dimas was honored both in the community and by the Holy Trinity Orthodox church after his death. The HCA continues to hold Memorial Services for Greek servicemen and women at the monument each year.

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279 S 300 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101