Providence, RI – State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and the Newport Hellenic community hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Rhode Island State House, bringing together state leaders and members of the Hellenic community to recognize the 197th anniversary of Greece’s independence. This is the twenty-sixth consecutive celebration of the event, which included the Consul General of the Hellenic Republic Stratos Efthymiou meeting with Rhode Island Senate President Domenic Ruggerio.
Throughout the day, Greece’s national flag was flown in four different areas of the Rhode Island State House, the Governor’s State Room, the Senate chamber, the House of Representatives chamber and atop of the Rhode Island State House building. Following the ceremonies in the Senate chamber, a program was held in the Governor’s State Room, with remarks offered by Consul General Efthymiou, and keynote speaker Commander Aristotelis Varsamidis of the Hellenic Navy, attending the Newport Naval War College. Also speaking were Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Lt. Governor Daniel McKee, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and President of Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England, Vasilis Kafkas. Other notable Rhode Islanders of Greek descent attending the festivities included East Providence School Committee member Charles Tsonis and Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements, whose mother was the late Freda Samos.
Letters of congratulations from all the members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation included United States Senator Jack Reed D-RI were read by State Senator Leonidas Raptakis. Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church brought greetings from Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of New England. This year’s co-emcee was St Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church Parish Council President Dr. Cosmas Haralambidis.
“This event is always a wonderful expression of our strong Hellenic community in Rhode Island and the strong connection between this state, known for its commitment to independence, and the nation which was the birthplace of democracy,” said Raptakis. “I want to thank Senate President Domenic Ruggerio and all of the general officers who attended once again, coming together in the Rhode Island State House to take part in this special celebration including the many Hellenes, who participated from Connecticut, and Massachusetts.”
As part of the main program in the Governor’s State Room, Father John Afendoulis of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Newport delivered both the invocation and the benediction while the audience joined together to sing the national anthems of the United states and the Hellenic Republic. Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston gave the invocation in the House of Representatives and retired Rev. Dr. George Economou also took part in the program. Children from all three Greek Orthodox parishes made their individual presentations of poems and sang together “Listen Macedonians.”
Both the Rhode Island House and Senate passed resolutions commemorating the Feast of the Annunciation and the 197th Anniversary of Greece’s independence and highlighting the continuing bonds between both the United States and Greece. Most important, the resolution recognizing the Truman Doctrine and continuing support by the United States to the people of Greece especially during the economic crisis that has plagued the country the last several years and the expanding economic partnership and military cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean.
A reception sponsored by the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodix Church was held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston following the program at the Statehouse.