New York State Capitol
Albany, New York
March 22, 2023
Let us bow our heads in prayer:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O Lord of the Powers – be with us this day and every day, as we strive to fulfill Your will in our lives.
Grant unto those who serve the Good People of the Great State of New York in this House of Law, special grace and wisdom, to do and to enact that which is righteous and good in Your sight.
We give You thanks and praise, O God, for gathering us together today – to celebrate once again the Rebirth of the Hellenic Genos.
Grant us the resolve to be followers of the Heroes of 1821, that we may always be worthy of their legacy, and bring honor to their names, and offer up all glory and worship to Your Most Holy Name – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
Esteemed Representatives of the State of New York,
Honorable Representatives of Greece and Cyprus,
I would like to express my gratitude to our brethren of AHEPA, and the Greek-American members of the New York Legislature who have made today’s celebratory luncheon possible:
Senator Gianaris, Senator Gounardes, Senator Skoufis,
Assemblyman Tannousis, and Assemblyman Lemondes.
The importance of the Great State of New York to the Greek-American experience cannot be underestimated, as witnessed by the representation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America here today. As a New York State Corporation since its inception, the Sacred Archdiocese of America has a unique relationship with New York and with New Yorkers. Our National Headquarters has been in New York City from its inception.
Though we are a National Church Body, New York holds a very special place for a great swath of Greek-Americans, because their forebears came through Ellis Island. The aspirations of so many, instantiated by the Statue of Liberty, have been fulfilled by passing through this most famous port of entry. And with our now completed Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center, we have a visible symbol of that immigrant experience in the very heart of Lower Manhattan, where so many American families gained a fresh start in a new land.
Today, we come together to memorialize the date of March 25, 1821 – the Fourth of July for all Hellenes. It is a date that coincides with one of the greatest religious observances of our Faith – the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. And this coincidence is a profound reminder of the nature of human liberty – the ability to choose, free from coercion or compulsion.
When we look at our world today, and we see how the rights of individuals can be trampled underfoot by regimes more interested in their own power than the enrichment of their citizens, as Greek-Americans, we give thanks to Almighty God for the Birthplace of Democracy – our precious Hellas, and Democracy’s greatest achievement – the United States of America.
Our gathering here today, within the Legislative House of all the People of the Empire State, reminds us that each of us – clergy and laity, women and men, public servants and private individuals – all have a responsibility to ensure that future generations have the same privileges, rights and opportunities that we have. We are always forming a “more perfect union” that is based on the inclusion of diverse communities who aspire to live in peace and harmony with one another.
The Heroes of 1821 fought for a freedom that many of them did not live to see. Such is always the price of liberty, from the most ancient of days until our own. And as proud Hellenes, we will never forget the Philhellenes from New York who launched ships of aid and support for the Revolution.
One such ship, the “Jane,” was sponsored right here in Albany, departing New York City on September 12, 1827, and arriving at the Greek port of Nafplion in November of that same year. The support from New Yorkers for the Greek Revolution is something that can never be forgotten. I, personally, am honored to be here today to speak the name of that ship; for it is a shining example of all those whose love for Greece, and all that She represents, still burns brightly in our world.
Each of us celebrates this Day of the Declaration of Independence differently in private. But when we assemble as a community, we know what to sing and what to chant:
Τῇ ὑπερμάχῷ στρατηγῷ τὰ νικητήρια,
ὡς λυτρωθεῖσα τῶν δεινῶν εὐχαριστήρια,
ἀναγράφω σοι ἡ πόλις σου, Θεοτόκε·
ἀλλ' ὡς ἔχουσα τὸ κράτος ἀπροσμάχητον,
ἐκ παντοίων με κινδύνων ἐλευθέρωσον,
ἵνα κράζω σοί· Χαῖρε Νύμφη ἀνύμφευτε.
This hymn of victory, combined with the National Anthem of both Greece and Cyprus – our Hymn to Liberty – whose many stanzas end with the rousing phrase, Χαίρε, ω χαίρε, ελευθεριά! – give voice to our common aspiration for freedom. An aspiration that we share with all of our fellow New Yorkers and Americans.
Therefore, on this joyful day in Albany – with gratitude for the sacrifices of our spiritual and physical forebears, and with a firm intention to always be worthy of the blessings of liberty – I thank all of you for coming together to honor our Heritage. We are a proud community that rejoices in the gifts we have been given – the incomparable legacy of Greece: Philosophy, Politics, Reason, Drama, Music, Athletics, and the whole host of virtuous human endeavors. These contributions continue in our own day, and were recognized by our Legislators earlier in the program, and we are very proud of all the honorees.
May God bless us all, and keep free forevermore the Peoples of Greece, Cyprus, the Great State of New York, and the American Nation.
Ζήτω τὸ Εἰκοσιένα!
Ζήτω τὸ Ἑλληνικὸ Ἔθνος!
May we bow our heads:
Almighty and Ever-Living God, You have shown forth the Greek People as being endowed with every manner of gifts, to the attainment of a culture and civilization that has been shared with the world.
Now, O Most Merciful Savior and Lord, bestow Your every spiritual and material benefit upon those gathered here, together with their families and loved ones.
Grace us all to always hold our freedom as a precious jewel in our hearts, and give us hands that are eager to magnify and defend that liberty.
Bless all our public servants, here present and those afar, so that they may obtain the reward of good and faithful servants who have placed the interest of their constituents above their own, manifesting what is best and brightest in the ministration of governments.
And may we all attain the fullness of our shared human nature, glorifying and praising Your Most Holy Name – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.