Greek Independence Celebration at The Blair House
The White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, hosted the day before the President’s celebration, at Blair House – the Vice President’s official residence – a reception and dinner for about 70 invited guests, on the occasion of Greek Independence Day and in honor of Archbishop Demetrios of America. Vice President Pence, made a surprise appearance shortly after the beginning of the dinner. The Vice President praised the Greek American Community in the United States and reminisced of his visit last year with Archbishop Demetrios at the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York. Archbishop Demetrios in his response thanked the Vice President for honoring the Greek American community with his presence.
Archon Andrew Manatos offered the initial toast and welcomed the guests on behalf of Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff.
Reince Priebus spoke of his faith, the family values he was raised by and his Greek Orthodox roots. He said that the Greek Community always stood by his side in difficult times. He also praised the other Greek American White House staff members of Greek Orthodox descent, George Gigicos, George Sifakis, and Alex Angleson. He said “we have something special here as a Greek community,” and asked the guests to ask any questions they might have.
Panos Kamenos, Minister of National Defense of Greece, took the opportunity and thanked Mr. Priebus for hosting the event and expressed the pride of the motherland for him. He also said that this gathering can send a message to the people of Greece, who are suffering economically for more than 5 years now, to be strong, a message of hope that everything in the future will be better.
Reince Priebus, responding to another question and speaking about religious freedom said that it is one of his personal goals to get the President involved in the religious freedom of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America, spoke about the importance and the dynamics of the Greek War of Independence of 1821 noting that the Greek struggle for independence did not happen in a vacuum but it followed a long history of thousands of years of contributions in language, literature, civilization and faith which were all contributors for the democratization of the human existence.