White House Greek Independence Day Celebration

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075-0106 * Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0237
www.goarch.org – Email: communications@goarch.org

Contact: PRESS OFFICE
Stavros Papagermanos
pressoffice@goarch.org

Date: April 17, 2015

Photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9BYRV6

AFTER THE PASSION, THE RESURRECTION IS INEVITABLE
ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS AT WHITE HOUSE ANNUAL GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

WASHINGTON – We believe in the Resurrection and therefore any impasse can be overcome, said His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America during the Annual White House Greek Independence Day celebration, hosted by President Barack Obama yesterday Thursday, April 16, 2015, at the White House. This was the 29th consecutive celebration at the White House honoring the 194th Anniversary of the start of the Greek War for Independence of March 25th, 1821.
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 5:15 p.m., and was attended by approximately 400 guests representing the Greek-American community.
Vice President Joe Biden offered introductory and welcoming remarks emphasizing the strong bonds with the Greek American Orthodox community and the many important contributions of Hellenism to the United States. He then introduced President Obama and Archbishop Demetrios.
The Archbishop in his remarks thanked the President for the unique opportunity of the White House celebration and for his Presidential Proclamation for Greek Independence, of March 24, 2015 (http://wh.gov/iWFRm) and he specifically emphasized that:
“We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, any impasse in Near, Middle or Far East can be overcome. We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, violent conflicts in Africa can be eradicated. We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, the issues of the Religious Freedom of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, the persisting Cyprus tragic division, the financial crisis in Greece and the continuous dispute over the name of FYROM, can be successfully confronted and resolved. We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, the painful dark issues of human trafficking, racism and violence of all sorts can be drastically eliminated.” (see full text of Archbishop’s remarks below)
President Obama welcomed everyone with the Greek greeting Kalispera, and acknowledged the great support of the Greek American Community over the years saying your friendship means everything to us.
He thanked Archbishop Demetrios and said the Archbishop has been a great friend ever since he came into office as President. He noted that this is the second time he and the Archbishop meet this month and the third time in the last six weeks. The President made particular reference to the anniversary events in Selma and the participation of Archbishop Demetrios and his predecessor Archbishop Iakovos who stood by the side of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights struggles of 1965. Finally, the President expressed his continued support for Greece during the economic crisis it is facing, concluding with the well-known Greek declaration Zeto e Hellas.
Present among the many guests at the White House were the Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, the Regional governor of Attica Rena Dourou, the Ambassadors of Greece to the United States Christos Panagopoulos and of Cyprus George Chacalli, Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, many members of Congress, US government officials and dignitaries.
Photos of the event: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9BYRV6

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REMARKS BY HIS EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS OF AMERICA
ON GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY, WHITE HOUSE – APRIL 16, 2015
Mr. President,
Once again, favored by your kindness, we have as Greek American Orthodox Community the great honor and special privilege to celebrate Greek Independence Day at the White House. This is truly a sacred and awesome tribute to the heroic Revolution of March 25, 1821, by which our ancestors, against all negative predictions, regained their freedom and established the independent Hellenic State after four bitter centuries under harsh foreign occupation.
We are deeply moved and wholeheartedly grateful to you, Mr. President, for offering to us such a unique opportunity. We are also very grateful for your declaration on the occasion of the celebration of Greek Independence Day. Your declaration was received with great appreciation and tremendous enthusiasm here and abroad. This enthusiasm is the result of the fact that in your text you delineate in a precise, unequivocal and beautiful language the long-standing unbroken bond of love, appreciation and permanent alliance between the United States of America and Greece. You eloquently present the common passion and struggles for democracy, freedom and justice for all, the respect for the human person and the promotion of human dignity and human rights for all peoples.
This time, however, Mr. President, there is an important new element in our yearly celebration at the White House. This time we meet after Easter while we celebrate in ineffable joy the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The vision and perspective of the Resurrection inspired the fighters of the Greek Revolution of 1821, because the Resurrection establishes as a fact that nothing is impossible. The vision and perspective of the Resurrection has also been one of your powerful guiding principles as manifested in the series of Easter Breakfasts for the leaders of the Faith Communities of our country which you have established, the sixth of which we celebrated in this very Hall ten days ago. As you said, the Resurrection of Christ coming after His most dramatic Passion offers a terrific perspective in resolving difficult current issues.
We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, any impasse in Near, Middle or Far East can be overcome.
We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, violent conflicts in Africa can be eradicated.
We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, the issues of the Religious Freedom of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, the persisting Cyprus tragic division, the financial crisis in Greece and the continuous dispute over the name of FYROM, can be successfully confronted and resolved.
We believe in the Resurrection, therefore, the painful dark issues of human trafficking, racism and violence of all sorts can be drastically eliminated.
We are with you, Mr. President, your administration and your noble Family, as you diligently work and unyieldingly fight to resolve these issues. We are with you in fervent prayer fully sharing the firm faith that through the Resurrection nothing is impossible. If the Crucified and Risen Christ has transferred humanity from death to life, and from earth to heaven, if He led the Greek people in 1821 from slavery to freedom, from subjugation to independence, then He certainly will lead us out of our impasses and problems to new creative life filled with love, joy and happiness, in the spirit of true and full liberty and freedom. After the Passion, the Resurrection is simply inevitable. Thank you.