PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis and the Cranston Hellenic Orthodox community hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday March 26, bringing together state leaders and members of the Hellenic community to recognize the 198th anniversary of Greece’s independence.
The event was the twenty-seventh consecutive celebration of Greece’s national holiday and included the Consul General of Greece in Boston Stratos Efthymiou and keynote speakers Mohegan Gaming Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos and Dr. Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, President and Director of the Boston Museum of Science.
Throughout the day, Greece’s national flag was flown in four different areas of the Rhode Island State House: the Governor’s State Room, the Senate chamber, the House of Representatives chamber, and atop the State House building.
Following the ceremonies in the Senate chamber, a program was held in the Governor’s State Room, with remarks offered by Efthymiou, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magazine, Attorney General Peter Neronha, and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey. The mayors from several Rhode Island cities that are home to Greek Orthodox churches also participated, including Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza and Mayor of Cranston Allan Fung.
“This event is always a wonderful expression of our strong Hellenic community in Rhode Island and the strong connection between this state, known for its commitment to independence, and the nation which was the birthplace of democracy,” said Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich).
“I want to thank the Senate and House for hosting this event, passing resolutions during their sessions yesterday, and consistently supporting Hellenic issues over the years. I am grateful to all of the legislators and general officers who attended again this year, coming together in the Rhode Island State House to take part in this special celebration, including the many Hellenes who participated from Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Our community shares in the values of Greece," Raptakis said.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Greek Language teachers Koula Rougas, Ioanna Andreopoulou, and Eleni Trikoulis facilitated the program this year, which included children from all three Greek Orthodox parishes making individual presentations of poems; together they sang the song O Thourios.
Both the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions commemorating the Feast of the Annunciation and the 198th Anniversary of Greece’s independence and highlighted the continuing bonds between both the United States and Greece. Most importantly, the resolution recognized the continuing support of the United States for the people of Greece, especially during the economic crisis that has plagued the country the last several years, and the expanding economic partnership and military cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean. A reception, sponsored by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, was held in Cranston following the program at the Statehouse.