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Archbishop Spyridon Leads Greek-American Delegation to the White House for Greek Independence Day Proclamation

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Mar 25, 1999

News Release

New York, NY - His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America led a delegation of Greek-American leaders to Washington DC, for the Annual Proclamation by President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office commemorating Greek Independence Day (the full text of the Proclamation is appended to this Press Release).

Due to the Kosovo crisis, the President was forced to clear his schedule today, except for two meetings. This meeting with Archbishop Spyridon and the delegation of leaders was one of the two the President kept on his schedule. The Hellenic Republic was also represented in this meeting by its Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigoris Niotis, and its ambassador to the United States, Alexander Philon.

During the meeting with President Clinton, Archbishop Spyridon addressed the crisis in Kosovo. He told the President:

"In thanking you today, we are mindful of the conflict and strife that surrounds the current situation in Kosovo. Many lives are now at risk, and we pray that God, in His providential loving care for all humankind, will illumine the path of peace and righteousness, so that the force of arms may give way to the terms of a just and lasting peace. We offer our prayers for those who are in harm’s way: our own American service men and women, the civilian population, and all those whose lives have been so afflicted by the continuing conflict. Mr. President, may God grant a speedy answer to all our prayers, and may he preserve you, our nation, and our whole world in peace, tranquillity and mutual respect." (The full text of the Archbishop’s remarks is appended to this Press Release.)

The Greek-American leaders in attendance included: John Catsimatidis, president of the Archdiocesan Council, John Brademas, former member of Congress and currently president emeritus of New York University; Andrew A. Athens, national chairman of the United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC), who in another capacity serves as the world president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE); and Andrew E. Manatos, president of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes and creator of the Greek Independence Day legislation. AHEPA (the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association) was represented by its vice president, George Dariotis, as well as the presidents of the Daughters of Penelope, the Sons of Pericles, and the Maids of Athena. The Archbishop was also accompanied by the Archdiocese Executive Director of Print and Digital Media, Presbyter Philemon Sevastiades, Archdeacon Elias Villis and Press Officer Athina Krikeli.

Several high-level administration officials also participated in this Oval Office event, including: the President's chief of staff John Podesta; OMB (Office of Management and Budget) deputy director Sylvia Mathews; from the National Security Council, deputy assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, James Steinberg, senior director of European Affairs, Tony Blinken, and director for European Affairs, Miriam Sapiro; and from the Office of Public Liaison, its director Mary Beth Cahill, as well as Richard Socarides and Christine Stanek. This is the fourteenth year in a row that the President of the United States has issued such a proclamation on the occasion of the commemoration of Greek Independence Day.

Following the official visit to the White House, the Archbishop went to the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral to officiate at the Doxology for Greek Independence Day. Later in the day, he attended a formal reception hosted by His Excellency, Ambassador Alexander Philon on the occasion of Greek Independence Day at the Westin Fairfax Hotel.

This afternoon, the Archbishop visited Congressman Ben Gilman (NY), the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the United States Senate, in order to meet with Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and thank them for the legislation that made the proclamation possible (Resolution attached as 3rd addendum).

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

March 24, 1999

GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY: A NATIONAL DAY OF CELEBRATION OF GREEK AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, 1999

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

 

America has deep roots in Greece, and today we celebrate the friendship, values, and aspirations our two countries have shared for more than 2 centuries. Greek thought and the passion for truth and justice deeply influenced many of our Nation's earliest and greatest leaders. The documents our founders wrote to establish our democracy and the political and legal institutions they created to preserve our independence and protect our rights reveal that influence.

Later, recognizing this profound debt to Greek thought and culture and inspired by the struggle of modern Greece in the War of Greek Independence, many Americans left home to join in that distant fight for freedom between 1821 and 1832. In this century, the relationship between the Greek and American peoples deepened as we fought together in two world wars. The U.S. desire to help preserve freedom in Greece after the devastation of World War II moved President Truman to stand firm against isolationism and for postwar engagement abroad. Our nations stood together in Korea and in the Gulf War, and we continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder today in our efforts to find a lasting solution in the Balkans and to promote democracy around the world.

The bonds of family have further reinforced our ties of friendship and shared ideals. All across our Nation, Americans of Greek descent have brought their energy, grace, and determination to every field of endeavor, and they have added immeasurably to the richness and diversity of our national life. The sons and daughters of Greece have flourished in America, and with their help, America too has flourished.

Today, as we celebrate the 178th anniversary of the onset of modern Greece's struggle for independence, let us celebrate as well the great partnership between our nations and the precious heritage of freedom and democracy we share.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 25, 1999, as Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.

 

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

Response of His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon

To President William J. Clinton

The Greek Independence Day Proclamation

The White House—Washington, DC

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Thank you, Mr. President.

 

Today, by your Presidential authorization, the United States of America recognize, commemorate, and honor the heroic struggle for Independence by the People of Greece.

I am reminded of what President John F. Kennedy once said, that as members of a democratic society, "We seek not the worldwide victory of one nation or system but a worldwide victory of men."

That is to say, as people of a common heritage and vision, we seek the triumph of those values and ideals that affirm and promote the welfare of all humanity— human rights, religious liberty, self-determination, and freedom from oppression and exploitation. These are the values which the Orthodox Church has lived and proclaimed for two millennia, because we believe that all humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. These are the values which inspired the heroes of the Greek War of Independence—and before them, the heroes of the American Revolution. These are the values which still inspire the Greek Orthodox Faithful of America to be proud citizens and fervent patriots of our beloved "land of the free" and "home of the brave." These are the values that this Proclamation, your Proclamation, honors today.

In thanking you today, we are mindful of the conflict and strife that surrounds the current situation in Kosovo. Many lives are now at risk, and we pray that God, in His providential loving care for all humankind, will illumine the path of peace and righteousness, so that the force of arms may give way to the terms of a just and lasting peace. We offer our prayers for those who are in harm’s way: our own American service men and women, the civilian population, and all those whose lives have been so afflicted by the continuing conflict. Mr. President, may God grant a speedy answer to all our prayers, and may he preserve you, our nation, and our whole world in peace, tranquillity and mutual respect.

Thank you again.

Designating March 25, 1999, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'. (Agreed to by the Senate)

SRES 50 ATS

106th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. RES. 50

Designating March 25, 1999, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

February 25, 1999

Mr. SPECTER (for himself, Mr. BIDEN, Mr. ABRAHAM, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. COCHRAN, Mr. BREAUX, Mr. DODD, Mr. DEWINE, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. DOMENICI, Mr. EDWARDS, Mr. FITZGERALD, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. GRASSLEY, Mr. HOLLINGS, Mr. GREGG, Mr. INOUYE, Mr. HAGEL, Mr. KENNEDY, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. KERREY, Mr. MURKOWSKI, Mr. KERRY, Mr. ROTH, Mr. KOHL, Mr. SESSIONS, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. SHELBY, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. SMITH of Oregon, Ms. MIKULSKI, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. MOYNIHAN, Mr. STEVENS, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. THOMAS, Mr. REED, Mr. THOMPSON, Mr. REID, Mr. WARNER, Mr. ROBB, Mrs. HUTCHISON, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, Mr. HATCH, Mr. SARBANES, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. TORRICELLI, Mr. HELMS, and Mr. CHAFEE) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

March 18, 1999

Committee discharged; considered and agreed to

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RESOLUTION

Designating March 25, 1999, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'.

Whereas the ancient Greeks developed the concept of democracy, in which the supreme power to govern was invested in the people;

Whereas the Founding Fathers of the United States of America drew heavily upon the political experience and philosophy of ancient Greece in forming our representative democracy;

Whereas the founders of the modern Greek state modeled their government after that of the United States in an effort to best imitate their ancient democracy;

Whereas Greece is one of the only 3 nations in the world, beyond the former British Empire, that has been allied with the United States in every major international conflict this century;

Whereas the heroism displayed in the historic World War II Battle of Crete epitomized Greece's sacrifice for freedom and democracy as it presented the Axis land war with its first major setback and set off a chain of events which significantly affected the outcome of World War II;

Whereas these and other ideals have forged a close bond between our 2 nations and their peoples;

Whereas March 25, 1999, marks the 178th anniversary of the beginning of the revolution which freed the Greek people from the Ottoman Empire; and

Whereas it is proper and desirable to celebrate with the Greek people and to reaffirm the democratic principles from which our 2 great nations were born:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) designates March 25, 1999, as `Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy'; and

(2) requests the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

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