Washington, DC—On April 1, 2009, the American Hellenic Institute hosted its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” at the Cannon Building on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 188th Anniversary of Greek Independence and the common democratic ideals held by Greece and the United States. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucusʼs co-sponsors, Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, who served as Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the guests and thanked Rep. Bilirakis and Rep. Maloney for their support in organizing the reception, and for their ongoing efforts in promoting Hellenic American issues in the U.S. Congress.
Special Guest speakers were Alexandros P. Mallias, Ambassador of Greece to the United States and Andreas S. Kakouris, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States.
Members of Congress attending the reception and addressing the audience included (in order of appearance): Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Michael E. McMahon (D-NY), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Rep. Zack Space (D-OH).
Each of the speakers emphasized their admiration for the Hellenic culture and for the valiant and inspiring struggle for Greek Independence, achieved nearly 200 years ago. They also expressed their wish for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue, and stressed their support for Greece over the name issue with FYROM.
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis traveled to Florida to participate in the Greek Independence Day celebrations that were held in Tarpon Springs on March 29, 2009. Mr. Larigakis was invited to be one of the grand marshals of the Greek Independence Day parade. The parade was attended by thousands of Greek and Cypriot Americans from throughout Florida.
While taking part in the Greek Independence Day parade, he was presented with an Award of Appreciation from the Greek Independence Day Parade Committee. The Parade Committee includes: President Alexandra Lazidis, Vice President and Parade Chairman Sotirios Angelatos, Board of Director member Angelo Angelatos, and AHI member George Mermelas. The award was in appreciation to Mr. Larigakis for his “outstanding leadership of the AHI over the years in support of Hellenism and in the strengthening of U.S. relations with Greece.”