Washington, DC – On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and the Greek American community were welcomed to the White House to celebrate Greek Independence Day, an honored tradition since 1987.
In his remarks, His Eminence thanked President Joe Biden for his commitment to Greece, Cyprus, and Hellenism and for his support for a “rules-based, international order.”
"You are so much more than our beloved friend,” the Archbishop said. "You have shown yourself to be a true champion for freedom around the world. Particularly on behalf of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, who are fighting for their very lives against inhuman and irrational aggression. You have stood with Ukraine on every step of this long and difficult path, and for that we are very grateful.”
“Also, as children of the Mother Church of Constantinople, whose unparalleled leader, His All- Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, counts you, Mr. President, as a true friend – we have cause for even more thankfulness. We thank you both for your strong support of the purely spiritual mission of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, a mission of love, peace and hope that is needed now more than ever. Mr. President, you are the leader of this great Nation and the leader of the free world, where you stand at the forefront of the phalanx for freedom. And we are here to tell you today, that you do not stand alone.” (Read full remarks.)
President Biden, in his own remarks, reflected on shared Hellenic and American values, particularly how each nation inspired the other’s democratic project, both in 1776 and 1821.
“As allies and partners and friends, we’ve proven time again that we aren’t just inheritors of democracy, we’re its champions. We’re its champions. And that’s thanks in large part to the courage and character of the Greek American community. You know, throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to see this courage and character up close,” President Biden noted.
“I see it in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which has always stood up for social justice and civil rights. I’ve seen it the leaders across the Greek American community who have always led with heart and with hope. None more consequential, in my view — none more consequential than Paul Sarbanes, as I said earlier. He was a guy who — who educated me. And most of all, I’ve seen it in the character and courage of millions of Greek immigrants who’ve always enriched what it means to be American. As I said earlier, our country owes a debt…to the founders of the Greek democracy and the first who taught us, 'We the People,’ to hold power, to shape our destiny.”
A musical performance by Rita Wilson followed. Esteemed guests included Ambassador of Greece to the US Alexandra Papadopoulou, Ambassador of Cyprus to the US Marios Lysiotis, US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, former US Ambassador to Belgium Tom Korologos; Greek American and Phil-Hellene members of Congress; National Philoptochos members; Archdiocesan Council members; leadership from AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope; and hierarchs, clergy and parish leaders.
Preceding th evening's celebration, Archbishop Elpidophoros met privately with President Biden at the White House.
On Thursday, March 28, the Honorable Rufus Gifford, Chief of Protocol of the United States, also hosted a dinner at the historic Blair House in honor of His Eminence and in celebration of 202 years of Greek Independence.