by Atha Panov

August 15-23, 1812

Dear Papou,

Thank you for teaching me early on about being adventurous and uninhibited. As you know in recent years, since my husband Michael’s death, I have found solace in Fort Dearborn, Chicago. I sometimes felt confined, or that life had become mundane in the fort. These feelings were offset by my awareness that I was safe surrounded by kind people. 

All that changed on Panaghia’s Day, when our fort was attacked by a Pottawatomi tribe. My shelter, as confining as I found it, was now compromised. I prayed on this Holy Day, empowered by Panaghia’s protection and watched in horror as soldiers who once stood tall were brought down by arrows shot with hatred from a stranger’s bow. I knew where to hide and watch strategically, as my former neighbors sacrificed their bodies. As I gathered supplies from fallen soldiers or Indians. Cowardly feelings were cast from my mind as Panaghia protected me from being killed due to my shame or guilt for wanting to live more than wanting to kill. She protected me from giving in to the distraction of the August heat. Panaghia was with me: I felt her strength, her calm and her journey as she sought shelter for herself and family while she was chased. I made it out. Papou, all those endless walks I took pretending I could just climb those walls and leave that boring life behind really paid off. Now that I was forced out, I lamented the ordinary, the routine, and the safety. Here I was free — unchartered territory, like your expedition from Greece. With my chin jutted forward and my determination as my companion, I never looked back. I looked for weapons outside the fort for reserves for anything I could add to my supplies, without weighing me down. I was distracted and caught off guard when a large amount of Indians were ahead of me approaching the fort, running towards me. I quickly laid down in the field, praying and waiting as they ran past me. When I was certain they were no longer a threat I continued my path. It felt like……

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