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Greek Independence Day Celebration at the White House

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  • Mar 23, 2012

    ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS EMPHASIZES NEED FOR SUPPORT TO GREECE IN THE WHITE HOUSE ANNUAL GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden welcomed yesterday evening (Thursday, March 22, 2012) at the White House His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and the Greek-American community for the Annual Greek Independence Day Celebration. This was the 26th consecutive celebration at the White House and honored the 191st Anniversary of the start of the Greek War for Independence of March 25th, 1821.

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    President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden met in private with Archbishop Demetrios in the Green Room, just prior to the public event, which started in the East Room of the White House at 7:00 p.m.

    Archbishop Demetrios, in his address which began the program, thanked the President for graciously hosting the annual event and spoke of the religious importance of March 25th to Orthodox Christians as the Feast of the Annunciation and the ethnic significance of the anniversary “when with the help of the almighty God the victorious Revolution for independence of the Greek Nation started in 1821.”

    The Archbishop pointed out “a dramatic change in the life of the Greek people,” which came about in the last two years and said that “various factors have contributed to the creation of a very dismal financial situation with extremely negative consequences on the life of the people of Greece,” and he added that in this circumstance “there is an urgent need for substantial assistance.”

    His Eminence recognized with gratitude the support of the President and his administration “for issues for which our American Greek Orthodox Community is deeply concerned and named the issues of religious freedom for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, the resolution of the problem of the re-unification of Cyprus, and the proper closing of the Macedonian issue.

    “Thus, we are fully justified in counting on the continuation and dramatic enhancement of your strong support also in the case of the present ordeal of the people of Greece. Our country, our USA, the universal beacon of democracy, liberty and justice, can offer substantial relieving assistance to Greece, the birth place of democracy in her serious financial distress. Yes! We can! We can, when our America has you as President.

    “We reiterate our wholehearted thanks to you, our thanks that are accompanied by our prayers to God for you, Mr. President for your noble family, for our great country and for heroic and suffering Greece. Our fervent prayers and efforts for Greece are based on our unwavering belief that the Cross is always followed by the Resurrection.”  (see full text of Archbishop’s Remarks below)

    DEMETRIOSBIDEN1.jpgVice President Biden spoke next and said that even though Greece has faced daunting challenges before, has always prevailed because of the courage of its people and presented President Barack Obama saying that the President himself is an example of such courage.

    President Obama started his remarks in Greek with the word Kalispera (good evening) and welcomed the Archbishop saying he is a model of piety and faith, but also a man of great humor and great warmth, adding that he is proud to call His Eminence a friend. The President welcomed Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Dimitris Dollis, the Ambassadors of Greece Vassilis Kaskarelis and of Cyprus Pavlos Anastasiadis, many members of Congress who were in attendance and the many guests and representatives of the Greek American Orthodox Community.

    The President also said that as we celebrate the 191st Anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence we are showing the bond that we share and we are honoring the enormous impact that Greeks have had on the life of the Nation, but also the ideas that move the World.

    Later in his remarks the President emphasized that even though the connection between our two nations was established long ago, the values and the ideals we share can only deepen over time and that is why we continue to stand with our Greek allies and friends as they work to recover from very difficult economic times. President Obama said he wants to thank all of his Greek friends and all the Greek people for their friendship and their contributions to the United States.

    Following the White House celebration, Archbishop Demetrios and other dignitaries attended a March 25th Anniversary reception at the Embassy of Greece in Washington.

     

    ***

    Remarks of His Eminence

    Archbishop Demetrios of America

    On the Occasion of Greek Independence Day of March 25, 1821

    The White House

    March 22, 2012

     

    Mr. President,

    Once again, you have opened to us the White House for the annual celebration of Greek Independence Day.  We are deeply grateful to you for such a great honor bestowed upon our Greek American Orthodox Community, an honor revealing the generosity of your heart and your unwavering commitment to the democratic ideals promoted by ancient Greece.

    This is the fourth time that we celebrate with you the auspicious annual Greek Independence Day.  Of course, nothing has changed with reference to the historic events which constitute the basis of our celebration.   The 25th of March of the year 1821 continues to be a day of high religious importance for Orthodox Christianity being the day of the  Feast of the Annunciation.  On the other hand, the very same day continues to be a day of high ethnic significance, because it is the day when with the help of the almighty God the victorious Revolution for independence of the Greek Nation started in 1821.

    There has been however, in the last two years, a dramatic change in the life of the Greek people.   Various factors have contributed to the creation of a very dismal financial situation with extremely negative consequences on the life of the people of Greece.

    Thus, Mr. President, today’s celebration of Greek Independence Day at the White House, although it refers to the same astonishing events of 1821, differs from the celebration in the year 2009, the first year of your noble Presidency.  Today, while enthusiastically saluting the astounding achievements of our heroic ancestors in 1821, we are painfully aware of the terrible ordeal to which at this very moment the descendants of those heroes are subjected.  These descendants, the people of Greece, are by no means desperate.  In the more than 6,000 years long history of Greece, her people have been frequently confronted with enormous difficulties and devastating crises.  However, they have ultimately been victorious.  We strongly believe that this  will happen again with the present crisis.  But in this case there is an urgent need for substantial assistance.

    Mr. President,

    You personally, as well as highly esteemed members of your administration such as Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton, have amply demonstrated your staunch support for issues for which our American Greek Orthodox Community is deeply concerned.   The establishing of religious freedom for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, the resolution of the problem of the re-unification of Cyprus, and the proper closing of the Macedonian issue, are examples of such a staunch support.

    Thus, we are fully justified in counting on the continuation and dramatic enhancement of your strong support also in the case of the present ordeal of the people of Greece. Our country, our USA, the universal beacon of democracy, liberty and justice, can offer substantial relieving assistance to Greece, the birth place of democracy in her serious financial distress. Yes! We can! We can, when our America has you as President.

    We reiterate our wholehearted thanks to you, our thanks that are accompanied by our prayers to God for you, Mr. President for your noble family, for our great country and for heroic and suffering Greece. Our fervent prayers and efforts for Greece are based on our unwavering belief that the Cross is always followed by the Resurrection.

    And now Mr. President, my friend and our friend the Vice-President of the United States, Joe Biden.

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