President George W. Bush Welcomes Archbishop Demetrios and the Greek American Community
Washington, D.C.- The March 25 Greek Independence Day, marking the 187th anniversary of the 1821 Greek Revolution against Ottoman rule, was celebrated on Tuesday at the White House at a special ceremony hosted by US president George Bush and attended by Archbishop Demetrios of America, Greek development minister Christos Folias representing the Greek government, the Greek and Cypriot ambassadors to the US Alexandros Mallias and Andreas Kakouris, respectively, and other officials.
In his opening remarks, Archbishop Demetrios in noting that this was the eighth consecutive year that President Bush has invited him to the White House for the celebration of the Anniversary of Greek Independence Day said:” Please accept, Mr. President, our deep appreciation and thankfulness for personally handing over to us, the Greek American community, your noble declaration honoring the Great Hellenic Revolution of March 25, 1821…The heroes of 1821, of the war for the independence of Greece, were absolutely convinced that with the help of God they could determine the course of their own history and achieve what otherwise seemed impossible. Their unshakable faith in God and their unwavering determination against a deplorable attitude of passive submission to any blind fate or inescapable chance were their most formidable weapons in a fight that, by normal human standards, seemed doomed to fail.
…Today, however, this very Greek Nation, in a number of sensitive issues, receives by some nations, treatment which is unjust by any standards. The issues of the reunification of Cyprus and of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are two characteristic examples of this. Therefore, speaking rather boldly on this solemn day, we express our firm conviction that you will certainly exercise your unique authority and leadership in order to facilitate a course of action that will treat sensitive issues related to Greece in a fair and dignified way. Greece is not seeking special favors or unreasonable deference”. (Complete text attached)
President Bush thanked Archbishop Demetrios for his suggestions, welcoming him again to the White House. The President also recognized the presence of the Greek Development Minister Christos Folias, the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros P. Mallias, the Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Andreas Kakouris and former US Senator Paul Sarbanes.
The President further stated: “All free people stand on the shoulders of Greece. In the ancient world where political power usually came from the sword, the people of Athens came together around a radical and untried idea that men were fit to govern themselves. It was this freedom that allowed them to create one of the most vibrant societies in history. And that society deeply influenced America’s founding fathers when they sought to establish a Free State centuries later.
Throughout their history”. he continued, “ the people of Greece have been committed to liberty. They’ve also been committed to the important principle that liberty only survives when brave men and women are ready to come to its defense. In the years leading up to Greece’s war for independence, one of the rallying cries of the Greek people was that it was better to be free for an hour than to be a slave for 40 years. Those are the kind of folks who had their priorities straight.”
Following the remarks by President Bush and Archbishop Demetrios the Metropolitan Youth Choir of the Direct Archdiocesan District, under the direction of Maria Kolevas, performed two songs for the President, the Archbishop and the invited guests, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and a popular Greek song. All the guests were moved as the President personally thanked each child. Earlier in the morning of March 25, Archbishop Demetrios celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Annunciation and Doxology for Greek Independence Day at St. Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC.