Published in The New York Times, October 29, 1912
RUSH TO THE WAR BY SPECIAL TRAIN
Greek Volunteers in One Detail of
350 Arrive from San Francisco, Bound Home
ONE SOLD OUT FOR $10.50
Single Example of $10,000 Sacrifice Is Cited
To Show Willingness to Serve Fatherland.
The advance guard of an army of Greeks from the West, who will answer their country’s call to arms, arrived yesterday at the Erie station in Jersey City in a special train. There were 350 in the party, all recruited in San Francisco. As the train rolled into the station at 6 o’clock a Greek or American flag was waving from each window of the six cars. Almost all were young men, and they came cheering for the United States and California, as well as for Greece. They fell into line four abreast and marched to the ferryboat, which brought them to the lower end of Manhattan.
In line was one man in the Greek naval uniform. His companions said he had served until a few months ago, when his enlistment expired, and he came to the United States. He was one of the first who signified to the Greek Consul General in San Francisco his willingness to return and take up arms for his country.
In charge of the detachment is Gus Stamatas, former Sergeant in the Greek Army, former Corporal in the California Volunteers, and with six years’ service in the Philippines to his credit. Stamatas came to America in 1886, and was a citizen when the war with Spain began. He enlisted and went to the Philippines soon after Dewey’s victory. After his enlistment expired he entered the civil service of the Government and was employed on telegraph construction work near Manila.
“I am an American,” he said proudly, “but I am also a Greek. My mother and my brother, who is head of the People’s Bank, are in Athens. I am going back because it is my duty to fight for the land in which I was born and in which my father died.”
The men who arrived yesterday are from many walks of life. A number of them are store keepers and restaurant proprietors. They have sold their businesses for what they could get, and they are paying their own way back to Greece.
Stamata’s case is typical of many. He saved up $10,000 and went into the hotel and restaurant business. He sold out to go to the front for just $10.50, but with the privilege of getting his business back upon his return. In the meantime the man who invested $10.50 will manage the place and draw the profits. If the Sergeant is killed the business will become the buyer’s without any further payment.
The special train left San Francisco last Wednesday. There was a parade before the men departed and a host of their countrymen wished them Godspeed.
At Marion, Ohio, the home-going soldiers had a royal reception, and in Chicago they stopped an hour and a half, long enough for a parade near the station.
Among the most enthusiastic was Joseph Mertiris, who has been in this country many years and has adopted the name of Martin.
“It means something to go back after one has settled in this country and met with success in business,” he said. “But when the call came to return and fight, I do not believe many of my countrymen thought much of their business. It was the call of the home country, and no matter where a man was born he would be a pretty poor man if he did not respond to the call of the Fatherland. We went to the Consul and told him we were ready to go back home and fight. The question of pay was not raised. Those who had more money than enough to get them home gave to some other man who was less well off, and the money was raised for this train and our steamship fares back to Greece.”
The call for the Greeks to return to their own country and fight is being answered loyally. Already another detail will leave that city on Wednesday, and another is ready to move from Ogden, Utah. Denver is furnishing half a regiment. The men will be cared for here by the Hellenic Society and will leave for Greece on the first Greek steamship sailing from this port.
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