WASHINGTON, DC – Today, nearly two million Americans claim Greek ancestry, including Congressman Gus Bilirakis, whose grandparents emigrated from Greece to the United States in the early 1900s. On March 17, Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Carolyn Maloney, Chris Smith, Ted Deutch, Nicole Malliotakis, Chris Pappas, John Sarbanes, Dina Titus, and David Cicilline filed legislation to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence. The resolution emphasizes the hard-fought struggle for independence of the Greek people, and the historic and dynamic relationship that defines the deep American-Hellenic ties.
"It is with great pride that I recognize the 200th Anniversary of Greek Independence and celebrate Greek and American democracy,” Congressman Bilirakis said. “Like the American revolutionaries who fought for independence and established this great republic we call the 'Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,’ Greek freedom fighters began an arduous struggle to win independence for Greece and its people 200 years ago. The lessons the Greeks taught us then continue to provide strength to victims of persecution throughout the world today. By honoring the Greek struggle for independence, we reaffirm the values and ideas that make our nation great. Socrates, Plato, Pericles, and many other great minds throughout history warned that we maintain democracy only at a great cost. Our Greek brothers earned their liberty with blood as did our American forefathers. The freedom we enjoy today is due to the sacrifices made by men and women in the past. Each time I perform my constitutional duties, I am doing so in the legacy of the ancient Greeks and our American forefathers. We celebrate Greek independence to reaffirm the common democratic heritage we share. As Americans, we must continue to pursue this spirit of freedom and liberty that characterizes both great nations," said Congressman Bilirakis.
“I am proud to join with my bipartisan and bicameral partners in introducing this resolution to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greece’s independence and her people’s freedom from the Ottoman Empire. I have the unique privilege of representing one of the largest Greek American communities in the United States, and I am blessed to call many of them close friends,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. “As the birthplace of democracy, Greece was an inspiration for the United States’ system of government. And just as Greece inspired our country, our revolution helped inspire the Greeks to revolt against the Ottoman Empire. After generations of oppression, Greece’s freedom was hard-fought, and the Hellenic Republic has become a shining example of democracy to the world. I’m thrilled to celebrate the bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence and the historic U.S.-Greece relationship.”
“This resolution honors the significant historical contributions made by Greece and also pays tribute to modern Greece’s critical role as an ally of the United States and a steadfast NATO partner in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). “The bicentennial of Greek Independence celebrates the nation’s long and rich heritage and highlights its role as the source of Western philosophy and democratic political systems. Greeks around the world have so much to be proud of— and I wish a very happy Independence Day to all those celebrating, especially and including the many Greek-Americans who greatly enrich our communities and our Nation.”
“As a proud Greek American I am honored to help commemorate the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day and to celebrate our storied history. I join my fellow Greek Americans throughout our country in honoring a shared commitment to our democratic institutions, recognizing the continued friendship between our nations, and reflecting on our proud traditions,” said Representative Pappas.
“Today, we proudly celebrate the bicentennial of Greek Independence Day and salute the people of Greece and Greek Americans across the United States,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “As a Greek American, I take special pride in the democratic traditions that will always unite our two nations in an enduring bond of friendship and goodwill. Χρόνια πολλά!"
“On this especially meaningful anniversary of Greek Independence, we recognize the special bond between our two nations and celebrate the boundless spirit of the Hellenic community. Greece is the birthplace of democracy and, for two centuries, the modern Greek state has promoted liberty, peace, and human rights. I am extraordinarily proud to be part of the Greek American community which has contributed so much to the United States and to the world,” said Congresswoman Titus.
Congressman Bilirakis currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic and the co-founder and current C0-Chairman of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance Caucus.