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Archbishop Expresses Prayerful Support in the White House Annual Greek Independence Day Celebration

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  • Apr 22, 2013

    WASHINGTON – This year’s annual Greek Independence Day event at the White House was held in the somber atmosphere following the bomb attacks in Boston. President Barack Obama, who had just returned from his visit to Boston, Thursday, April 18, 2013, welcomed 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 27th consecutive celebration at the White House honoring the 192nd 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 around 6:00 p.m.

    Archbishop Demetrios, in his address which began the program, noted the special circumstances of this year’s commemoration: “…today our hearts are heavy, our minds numb, and our joy is overshadowed by grief and sorrow for the innocent victims and their families from Monday’s terrorist attacks in Boston.” His Eminence conveyed the condolences of the Ecumenical Patriarch, drew parallels between the Greek fight for independence and freedom and the values of the American democracy and offered the steadfast support and unfailing prayers of the Greek Orthodox Community “we may all see the day when peace, justice, and the power of love rule supreme in our world, and tears be shed no more for the innocent.” (see full text of Archbishop’s Remarks below)

    President Obama welcomed everyone with the greeting Kalispera (good evening) and he first expressed thanks to the Archbishop saying how grateful he was to count the Archbishop among those from whom he seeks counsel and advice. The President referred to his visit to Boston earlier in the day, and said he felt his spirits lifted by the courage and resolve of the people of Boston. He also said that the bonds between Greece and the United States are strong and will grow stronger in the years ahead. He recognized his Greek-American friends from Chicago and said that Greek Americans make an extraordinary contribution across the country, noting that the Greek American community represents what is essential about America as they have forged something that is new but it is also connected to ancient values and traditions. President Obama took time to express thanks to the President of Greece Karolos Papoulias and the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for their expression of condolences and solidarity and recognized the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Christos Panagopoulos and the representative of the Embassy of Cyprus Olympia Neocleous.

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    In his remarks, Vice President Joe Biden said to the attendees that he learned from an early age that the word freedom is almost synonymous with Greece and that he considers Greek-Americans very special Americans. He then added that what impresses him the most is a Greek proverb that says that a society grows when men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit under. He said this is exactly what this community has done in this country as it understands its obligations.

    ***

    REMARKS BY ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS

    OFFERED AT THE PRESIDENTIAL OBSERVANCE OF

    GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY

    THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2013

    THE WHITE HOUSE

    Mr. President, Mr. Vice-President:

    For one more time, we, the Greek-American Orthodox Community, have the great honor today to be at the White House, in order to commemorate the Greek Independence Day.    Unlike past years, however, today our hearts are heavy, our minds numb, and our joy is overshadowed by grief and sorrow for the innocent victims and their families from Monday’s terrorist attacks in Boston.

    At this solemn moment, allow me to convey the heartfelt condolences and prayerful support of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who shares his grief and distress with the American people.

    The people of Boston demonstrated to each other and to the world what freedom, patriotism, and heroism truly mean. The same resolve and patriotism stirred the hearts and minds of the Greeks who in 1821 fought heroically for their independence after suffering 400 years of foreign occupation in order to regain their freedom and establish the free state of Greece.  Almost two centuries ago, the heroic Greek people in their fight shared the same yearning for freedom and democracy, just like the forefathers of our Nation. Often the result of such courageous and bold acts comes with an enormous price.  A price, however, which stems from the strong desire for universal values such as the pursuit of happiness, human rights, dignity, religious freedom and peaceful coexistence.

    Everyone knows that only a few hours ago, our President and the First Lady joined the grieving City of Boston. His leadership and presence were a much-welcome solace and comfort in their hour of need. Now we are welcomed at the White House in honor of the struggle for independence of the Greek People in 1821.

    In light of this week's tragedy, and the continuing struggle for security in our Nation today, we offer our unfailing prayers, our steadfast support, and our pledge to give our utmost as faithful citizens of this great country. To borrow the words of the President:   “We must pick ourselves up, dust off and continue”.

    We stand shoulder to shoulder in the work of preserving and fostering freedom. And we pray that we may all see the day when peace, justice, and the power of love rule supreme in our world, and tears be shed no more for the innocent.

    May God bless our President and his noble family, the beloved people of Boston, and may God bless the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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