Annual White House Greek Independence Day Celebration with the President
For the 33rd consecutive year, our national community has been one out of only two nationalities in America able to meet with the President of the United States every year to discuss our concerns. This year too, President Donald Trump celebrated the common bond between the United States and Greece rooted in traditions and praised “the countless ways Greek Americans strengthen and uplift and inspire our nation. You live by the values that are the foundation of America’s greatness. You really do. You honor hard work. You love your families. You enrich your culture. And you embrace the American Dream and you keep faith in the blessings of Almighty God.
“The United States — and all of Western civilization — has been profoundly shaped by the extraordinary achievements of the Greek people, stretching all the way back to ancient times.
“As a famous Greek historian wrote, ‘Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.’ And you are courageous. In every generation, Greek Americans have summoned the courage to defend our freedom.”
The President came on stage in the East Room of the White House together with Archbishop Demetrios and said it was a great honor to be with many friends to celebrate Greek Independence Day. Additionally, he recognized the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus to the U.S. Haris Lalacos and Marios Lysiotis, and the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis. The President also recognized the presence of his cabinet members: Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH).
President Trump also recognized several individuals from the Greek-American Community including Senior Airman Gregory Manuel and Major Carl Hollister for their service in the U.S. Military; George Marafatsos, a parish councilmember at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Silver Spring, Maryland; Aphrodite Skeadas, past president of the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society; and Father Kosmas Karavellas, who serves the Greek Orthodox community in Annapolis, Maryland; And he said that “each of these remarkable individuals represent the stories of so many Greek Americans in the room.”
Speaking on behalf of the Greek American community, Archbishop Demetrios remarked that “throughout many years we have been at the White House for the celebration of Greek Independence Day and we have always raised issues of freedom, especially in regards to freedom of religion for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, justice for the island of Cyprus, and the proper name of a neighboring to Greece Balkan State. Knowing your personal dedication, Mr. President, to the most valuable issues of justice and freedom for all, we thank you for listening to our voice, and we ask you to continue your support to the aforementioned issues.”