In 1821, after nearly 400 years of Ottoman oppression, the Greeks bound together under a flag bearing the cross to fight for freedom and justice in the land which gave the world democracy. Like the revolution which took place in America 45 years earlier, Greece would embark on a journey forever linking our two countries in their struggle for freedom and independence.
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America drew upon the ideals and principles forged in ancient Greece in constructing our nation. Thomas Jefferson called ancient Greece “the light which led ourselves out of Gothic darkness.” All who cherish a free and democratic government are beneficiaries of Greece’s legacy and thus should consider themselves Philhellenes.
Throughout history, Greece and the United States have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to face the challenges of an ever-changing world. Greece had been allied with the United States in every major conflict of the 20th century. The strong alliance continues into the 21st century. Greece, via Souda Bay, Crete, and other military capabilities, has contributed significantly to NATO and United States missions, including peacekeeping operations, in the ever-increasingly important region of the world. Greece continues to do so amid two crippling crises, economic and migratory. And we can be equally proud how the people of Greece have responded–with care, compassion, and philotimo deemed worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
In celebration of the 195th anniversary of Greece’s independence, AHEPA family chapters, districts, and our communities, are working together to promote parades across the country, to secure Proclamations from state and local governments, and are organizing flag-raising ceremonies at various State Capitols and City Halls. Indeed, AHEPA members worldwide promote and sustain the celebration of this historic day for all Hellenes.
In closing, I would like to thank President Barack Obama, who will host a White House reception in recognition of Greek Independence Day on April 4, and express our gratitude to the members of Congress who took the time to commemorate Greek Independence Day with speeches on the Senate or House Floors. In the U.S. Senate, a resolution has been introduced that commemorates Greek Independence by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that we expect will pass. Finally, I also ask Hellenes throughout the Diaspora to take a moment to acknowledge and pay their respects to those who sacrificed which allowed freedom and democracy to take root-once again-in Greece in 1821. Zhto H Ellas!
John W. Galanis