2001 News Archives

March 25 Greek Independence Day

Washington, DC – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, led a delegation of Greek-American leaders to Washington, DC on March 22nd –23rd to commemorate Greek Independence Day. In a ceremony conducted on March 23rd in the Indian Treaty Room, President George W. Bush presented Archbishop Demetrios with the official Proclamation declaring March 25th, 2001 to be Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy, 2001.

In his opening comments, Archbishop Demetrios said to President Bush, “With this proclamation, which you so graciously signed and personally offered to us, you honor the country and the people of Greece for their superb and sacrificial contribution to the ideals of democracy, freedom, justice, human rights and human dignity throughout three continuous millennia.”

President Bush, in warmly welcoming all those in attendance, responded, “When I became President, I inherited the responsibility to safeguard one of America’s oldest and most sacred friendships – that of the government and people of the United States with the government and people of Greece. We must keep that relationship vibrant, as it has been for 180 years.”

Attending the ceremonies were some 50 people, including a Greek government delegation led by Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Grigorios Niotis; Ambassador of Greece to the United States, Alexander Philon; and members of Parliament Vasilios Geranidis and Panagiotis Skandalakis. Representing the Republic of Cyprus was Ambassador to the United States, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis.

Also in attendance were Director of the CIA, William Tenet; Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL); Andrew A. Athens, World President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad; Johnny Economy, Supreme President of AHEPA; Andrew Manatos, President of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes; Archdiocesan Council members Michael Jaharis (Vice-Chairman), Nicholas Bouras (Secretary), John Catsimataidis and John Payiavlas; Alex Spanos, major Greek-American supporter of President Bush; Dr. Louis Roussalis of Casper WY, personal physician to Vice-President Cheney; Eugene Rossides, Founding Chairman of the American Hellenic Institute; Arthur Anton, Chairman of Leadership 100; Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew; Former Ambassador to Greece from the United States, Michael Sotirhos; and Barbara Spyridon Pope, highest-ranking Greek-American in the former Bush administration.

In addition to the Proclamation Ceremony, other Greek Independence Day activities included a meeting with Majority Leader Trent Lott; a dinner with top Congressional advocates for Hellenic issues, including Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) and Chairman Emeritus of the House International Relations Committee, Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY).

On Friday noon, a luncheon was held at the historic Blair House, hosted by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, former Senator from Michigan and an Orthodox Christian, who spoke warmly of his association with the Greek-American community in Michigan and throughout the United States. Among those at the luncheon in addition to the above mentioned were: Tom Korologos, assistant to President Nixon for Senate Liaison; Senior Policy Advisor for International Affairs for the Secretary of Energy, Ronda Fahmy-Hudome; Michael Huffington, Assistant Secretary of Defense in the former Bush administration and former member of Congress; and major philanthropists and activists Steve Yeonas of McLean, VA and Dennis Mehiel of New York City.

Orthodox Observer Online