Washington, DC.- (GreekNewsOnline)
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
Greek Independence Day was celebrated at the White House for the 33rd consecutive time, with a ceremony attended by the President of the United States Donald Trump, Archbishop Demetrios, cabinet members and a crowd of over 400 cheerful Greek-Americans, some of which repeatedly said “four more years”.
The President was in high spirits, throwing “Make America great” Trump hats to the crowd. He came on stage in the East Room of the White House together with Archbishop Demetrios and said it was a great honor to be with many friends to celebrate Greek Independence Day.
Additionally, he recognized the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus to the U.S. Haris Lalacos and Marios Lysiotis, and the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis. The President also recognized the presence of his cabinet members: Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH)
On March 25th, 1821 Greek patriots rose up and fought to liberate their country, restore their sovereignty, and reclaim their destiny,” and at a later point he added: “This evening, we also celebrate the countless ways Greek Americans strengthen and uplift and inspire our nation. You live by the values that are the foundation of America’s greatness. You really do. You honor hard work. You love your families. You enrich your culture. And you embrace the American Dream and you keep faith in the blessings of Almighty God. And that’s great. The United States — and all of Western civilization — has been profoundly shaped by the extraordinary achievements of the Greek people, stretching all the way back to ancient times…”
Citing the contributions of Greek culture to world history, president Trump mentioned Homer and Aristotle and geometry and map-making, among others, and said that Greece is the birthplace of democracy.
Americans of Greek descent have made a lasting impression in everything including sports, Trump said, and he made special mention of Greek-Americans in the audience who had served in the US armed forces, including Senior Airman Gregory Manuel and Major Carl Hollister. He also recognized his Washington early supporter George Marafatsos, a parish councilmember at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Silver Spring, Maryland; Aphrodite Skeadas, past president of the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society; and Father Kosmas Karavellas, who serves the Greek Orthodox community in Annapolis, Maryland; And he said that “each of these remarkable individuals represent the stories of so many Greek Americans in the room.”
“You are a very, very competitive people, and you never quit,” Trump said, adding that Greek immigrants had deepened the bonds of affection and the pride in the American nation.
For the third time under your Presidency we have, as the Greek-American Orthodox Christian community, the exceptional opportunity to celebrate the Greek Independence Day at the White House. This is a celebration honoring a unique fight for freedom and justice by our ancestors in 1821, two centuries ago. A very small number of people without adequate resources, after four centuries of harsh, foreign occupation, stood up against the mighty Ottoman Empire and by an amazing determination, huge sacrifices, and the invincible assistance of God, they managed to establish again Greece as an independent and free state. There would be no better place to remember such an historic event than the White House, the symbol of the American nation which is a beacon of freedom for all.
Throughout many years we have been at the White House for the celebration of Greek Independence Day and we have always raised issues of freedom, especially in regards to freedom of religion for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, justice for the island of Cyprus, and the proper name of a neighboring to Greece Balkan State. Knowing your personal dedication, Mr. President, to the most valuable issues of justice and freedom for all, we thank you for listening to our voice, and we ask you to continue your support to the aforementioned issues.
As always, you and your family have our warmest prayers for abundant blessings from Almighty God, the Giver and Guarantor of freedom, justice and dignity for every human being and for all nations on earth. Thank you”.
The White House’s proclamation on Greek Independence Day states the following:
On the 198th anniversary of Greek Independence Day, we celebrate the rich history and enduring bond between the United States and Greece. Our strong alliance and unwavering friendship are rooted in mutual respect and a shared commitment to freedom, justice, and democracy.
The common bond between the United States and Greece is rooted in thousands of years of tradition, stretching back to ancient Greece. The lessons of ancient Greek democracies are among the greatest and most enduring ever taught. From them the world came to know and understand the foundational principles of human liberty, self‑government, and the rule of law ‑‑ the very principles that fueled America’s own drive for independence and shaped our Republic. Decades after securing our independence, American citizens expressed their appreciation by supporting the people of Greece in their fight for their own freedom.
Today, our Greek-American partnership is robust and gaining momentum. The inaugural United States‑Greece Strategic Dialogue, held last December, and the United States‑Greece Commercial Dialogue, held last September, highlighted the strength of the bilateral relationship and bolstered confidence in Greece as a regional leader. We applaud the historic 2019 decision of the Greek Parliament to ratify the Prespa Agreement, which resolved the long-standing naming dispute with North Macedonia. This ratification confirmed Greece’s role as a partner with an abiding commitment to advancing stability, security, and prosperity in the region. Additionally, the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair forged opportunities for enhanced collaboration in technology, enterprise, and innovation.
Our common vision for a peaceful and prosperous region is particularly evident in our ongoing defense relationship. The rotation of NATO aircraft and equipment through Thessaloniki and Alexandroupoli, the complex bilateral training events, and the availability of Souda Bay for the naval forces of the United States reflect mutually beneficial cooperation to ensure our mutual strength and security. Our bilateral relationship has also afforded many opportunities to support partnerships and initiatives that address the areas of defense and security, law enforcement and counterterrorism, and energy security and diversification.
The strong people-to-people ties that undergird our friendship also serve to fortify our alliance. We continue to identify opportunities to increase student and professional exchanges and English language programs. These programs make tremendous contributions to the economic, cultural, and political power of our two great democracies. This summer, we will launch the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program with Greece to develop the next generation of leaders who will sustain and enhance our strong partnership.
On this day, we honor the shared values that bind our two countries as faithful allies and friends, and we recognize the profound impact Greek‑Americans have had on every aspect of our culture. Together, recalling the spirit of the ancient Greeks, we reaffirm our abiding belief that democratic institutions offer the greatest opportunity to safeguard human rights, dignity, and freedom for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 25, 2019, as Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.
DONALD J. TRUMP”