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Messages of Appreciation Abound at White House Greek Independence Celebration

WASHINGTON, DC – In the presence of prominent Greek-Americans and philhellenes from the political, business, and art worlds, the White House held its customary annual reception on Wednesday afternoon, March 29 to mark the anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence.

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the guests, and explained that his wife Jill could not attend because she was in Tennessee, where she has gone to support the families of the victims of the recent deadly elementary school massacre.

The first to speak was Archbishop Elpidophoros, who, addressing the U.S. President, praised his long-standing relationship with the Greek-American community, focusing on his close relationship with Greece and the Greek-American community.

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America with U.S. President Joe Biden (GOARCH/Brittainy Newman)

“Mr. President, you have long been a close and trusted friend of the Omogeneia, a cause for deep appreciation and affection. You started this long friendship with the Greeks of Wilmington, Delaware, and you have reached out across the Nation and the oceans itself to give your wise counsel, your solidarity, and your reciprocal love through the decades. To be with you here at the White House, celebrating the resurrection of the Greek Nation, is an extraordinary honor for all of us, and on behalf of all, I thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Elpidophoros said, among other things.

President Joe Biden speaks during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, celebrating Greek Independence Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Archbishop went on to praise Joe Biden’s stance on the Ukraine issue, as well as the support he provides to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, declaring that, “as children of the Mother Church of Constantinople, whose unparalleled leader, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, counts you, Mr. President, as a true friend – we have cause for even more thankfulness. We thank you both for your strong support of the purely spiritual mission of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, a mission of love, peace and hope that is needed now more than ever.”

The many guests who gathered at the White House for the celebration of Greek Independence. (GOARCH/Brittainy Newman)

Elpidophoros also noted that Hellenes of American support the President.

For his part, Joe Biden, in his own speech, focused on the strong ties between the United States and Greece, as well as the common struggles of the two countries to ensure freedom and democracy.

H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
Joe Biden with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at the White House celebration for Greek Independence. (GOARCH/Brittainy Newman

President Biden declared: “Simply put, as allies and partners and friends, we’ve proven time again that we aren’t just inheritors of democracy, we’re its champions. We’re its champions. And that’s thanks in large part to the courage and character of the Greek American community. You know, throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to see this courage and character up close. I see it in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which has always stood up for social justice and civil rights. I’ve seen it in the leaders across the Greek- American community have always led with heart and with hope. None more consequential, in my view – none more consequential than Paul Sarbanes, as I said earlier.  He was a guy who – who educated me.”

H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)

In addition, President Biden recognized, among others, Congressman John Sarbanes, U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, as well as Andy and Mike Manatos.

The cultural program was led by the Greek-American actress Rita Wilson, who performed a song made famous by Stamatis Kokotas, with music by Giorgos Hadjinasios and Nikos Vrettos, while her husband Tom Hanks also was greeted with warm applause.

H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros was welcomed at The White House by President Joe Biden today March 29th, 2023 to Celebrate Greek Independence. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
Left to right: Taso Pardalis, Stratos Safioleas, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, Kyriacos Papastylianou, and George Horiates at the White House Greek Independence celebration on March 29. (Photo: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos)
Rita Wilson performs at a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, celebrating Greek Independence Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Rita Wilson performs at a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, celebrating Greek Independence Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Actor Tom Hanks arrives before President Joe Biden speaks during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, celebrating Greek Independence Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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