2010 News Archives

Remarks of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America at the White House, March 9, 2010

Remarks of His Eminence

Archbishop Demetrios of America

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


The White House

March  9, 2010


Mr. President,

         Once again, as Greek American Orthodox community, we have the great honor and privilege to be your guests at the White House, on the occasion of the annual celebration of the Greek Independence Day.   We are deeply grateful for your kindness and for your commitment to pursue what St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians describes as "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is gracious"(Phil. 4:8)

         It is exactly in the spirit of these words of St. Paul that we experience this celebration at the White House today.

         We are also happy to have with us the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. George Papandreou and his wife Mrs. Ada Papandreou, participating in an event very important for the Greek-American Orthodox community.  This is the first time ever, Mr. President, that the Prime Minister of Greece is present in the celebration of Greek Independence Day at the White House.  And the fact that the First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama, is here for the first time certainly enhances the joy of the day.  

         The Greek Revolution and the war for independence, which started on March 25, 1821, was, by all sound criteria, a predictably lost cause.   The reasons for such a pronouncement are well known:  four centuries under occupation by the mighty and relentless Ottoman Empire; barely organized revolutionaries  far outnumbered by huge and well organized armed forces;  limited  weapons and ammunitions;  and a hostile reaction by some strong European countries.  

         Yet, against all odds and pessimistic predictions, the heroic revolutionaries of 1821 achieved the impossible.  They were victorious.  They defeated a mighty Empire and established, after four centuries of foreign occupation, a free and independent State, the new Greek State.

         This truly amazing achievement became a reality, first thanks to the soul of the fighters, a soul dominated by faith in God and by faith in their destiny to live free and independent.   Secondly, thanks to the heart of the fighters, a heart inundated by unusual courage and astonishing fearlessness even in the face of devastating suffering and death.  And thirdly, thanks to the mind of the heroes of 1821, a brilliant mind which made out of ordinary people extraordinary military tacticians and strategists able to outwit experienced Ottoman military commanders. 

         Souls filled with unwavering faith, hearts filled with enormous courage, and minds shining with brilliance made the impossible possible in the epic of the Greek War for Independence of 1821.  Today, we pay homage to those heroic  fighters of 1821 and we honor their universal legacy for freedom, democracy and  independence. 

         Having the great honor of being their descendants, and the distinct privilege to live in this country, where freedom and independence constitute absolute values, we feel the need to intensify what we can do in order to assist the efforts for establishing freedom, democracy and justice for all, even to the ends of the earth.

Mr. President, 

         We are gratefully aware of and we are with you in your persistence and commitment to promote globally those absolute values, especially in the sensitive areas of the Far, the Middle and the Near East Asia.   We thankfully noted that in the first year of your Presidency, you have repeatedly shown your specific advocacy of the same values in the case of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly defending its God-given right to religious freedom.   We rely on your continued and dynamic support until, with the help of the omnipotent God, the expected good results are obtained.   We also repeat our plea expressed to you in last year's celebration, for your needed intervention in the still pending issues of the re-unification of Cyprus, and of the appropriate name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.   Our plea for these issues is accompanied by our warm prayers for the leaders and people of Greece, the land which gave Democracy and universal values to the world.

Mr. President,

On this solemn occasion of celebration of the Greek Independence Day at the White House, we boldly declare that we count on your strong support.   We also firmly assure you that you can count on our support in your noble efforts for promoting freedom, justice and peace throughout the suffering areas of our planet.   And you can definitely count on our prayers for you personally and your beloved family, and for this blessed land of America, the champion of Democracy. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

Orthodox Observer Online