Annual Greek Independence Day Reception at the White House

By: Stavroula Kotrotsios, Esq.

WHITE HOUSE -WASHINGTON, DC – On April 16, 2015, Hellenes and Phil-Hellenes gathered at the White House for the annual Greek Independence Day Celebration.  Prominent members of the community gathered in support of this event in honor of the Greek revolution and the contributions of Greek Americans to American government.

The Vice President of the Unites States Joe Biden gave the opening remarks regarding the courage and determination of the Greek people, describing the adversity overcome in the Greek War of Independence.  He shared with the audience, “You are defined by your courage and redeemed by your loyalty, and that to me is the definition of what the Greek community is all about.

The Vice President continued his remarks, drawing upon the history of our countries, “ The Founding Fathers were inspired by the democratic ideals of the Ancient Greeks.  The roots that we share run deep.  We stand side by side with our friends of Greece today as they continue to go through very difficult economic times”.

The Vice President announced,  “Next year will be thirty years and five presidents since Andy Manatos had the idea of bringing all of us to the White House”.  Archbishop of America Demetrios thanked the President for hosting the Greek community at the White House and for his administration’s commitment to a strong Greece, an ally of the United States.

President Barack Obama then welcomed guests and described his ties to the community.  He acknowledged Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who was in attendance.  He mentioned how he traveled to Selma where he met Archbishop of America Demetrios last month, remembering the Americans that walked over that historic bridge, a meeting point for tolerance and union in our country.  He noted the significance that faith played on that historic day.

Dr. Martin Luther King marched arm in arm with Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Church, despite warning to the Archbishop Iakovos that his life would be in jeopardy.  He praised the Archbishop, who went despite the threat and the controversy, and took as stand.  He took that stand to serve as a warrior in what he called “the battle for mankind.”  The President shared this history with the audience and declared how, “That moment is just one more link in the long chain of friendship between our countries and our cultures”.

President Barack Obama had a brief sideline conversation with Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis about the current status of Greece’s economy.

Mr. Andy Manatos is the founder of Manatos & Manatos (M&M) is a government relations and public policy company in Washington D.C. Twenty-nine years ago, Manatos & Manatos created Congressional legislation and worked with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and others to establish the annual White House celebration of Greek Independence Day. Greek-Americans and Irish-Americans are the only two ethnic groups to have an annual event with the President of the United States of America.