In front of an audience of American and Greek-American dignitaries, U.S. President Donald Trump hosted the White House Greek Independence Day Celebration on Thursday evening.
In his remarks, Trump commemorated the Greek struggle for independence and sovereignty, and the profound influence of Greece on the Western world:
“Today, we commemorate the Greek struggle for independence that began on March 25, 1821. After almost four centuries of foreign rule, brave Greek patriots fought to reclaim their freedom, their sovereignty, and their right of self-determination.
The Greek fight for independence enjoyed an outpouring of support throughout the Western world. The citizens of France, Great Britain, the United States, and many other nations were moved to action by a cultural and historical kinship tracing back thousands of years to Ancient Greece, the birthplace of — and you know what this is — democracy. Right? The birthplace of democracy and of, really, Western Civilization.
All around us, here in the United States, we see the profound influence of Greek culture, art, and philosophy.
In the Federalist Papers, our Founding Fathers consulted the wisdom of the Ancient Greek city-states when writing our own Constitution. They learned a lot. They knew what they were doing.
Our nation’s generals, scientists, lawyers, and educators continue to find inspiration in the works of the Ancient Greeks. And throughout this capital city, from the Supreme Court to the Lincoln Memorial to the beautiful, beautiful White House — you like the White House? — what a house — we see the magnificence of Greek architecture.
Finally, we see Greece’s enduring influence through so many Americans of Greek descent who contribute so much to this nation that we love.
In celebrating Greek independence, we honor this influence and we remember our common heritage. We take renewed confidence that whatever challenges we might face anytime in the future, we will face them together — we’ll all be together — as members of a great community of nations.
And like our ancestors, we too will draw strength from the bonds of history and culture that unite our countries and shape our destinies.”
Trump did not miss the opportunity to inject some humor into the celebration:
“We have been honoring Greek independence here at the White House since 1987, a tradition we know will continue for many, many years. I’ll only be with you for another seven.”
Following Trump’s statement, Archbishop Demetrios of America came to the podium for a statement. Thanking Trump for the invitation, Demetrios turned his attention to the threats which Greece, Cyprus, and Hellenism at large are facing today:
“Mr President, we are grateful that you share these vital American and universal principles and we kindly ask that you continue to affirm them all the more in this troubled world. We further ask for your special care and attention to the continuous injustices suffered by our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in matters of full religious freedom.
We further ask for your special care and attention to the continuous injustices suffered by our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in matters of full religious freedom. We humbly request that you speak on behalf of all of us for a fair and equitable solution to the prolonged and tragic division of Cyprus, and to the issue of an appropriate and historically justifiable name of the FYROM.”
Also at the commemoration were U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (Florida), Carolyn Maloney (New York) and Virginia Foxx (North Carolina). Popular Greek singer Thanos Petrelis sang at the official White House dinner commemorating Greek Independence.
The full text of Trump’s commemoration can be found here.
Video of the Greek Independence Day commemoration at the White House: