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United States

Greek Independence Day, Annunciation Feast Celebrated at Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE, RI – State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-District 33, Coventry, West Greenwich) and Rhode Island’s Hellenic communities hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Rhode Island State House on March 21, bringing together state leaders and members of all three Hellenic communities from Cranston, Newport, and Pawtucket to recognize the 202nd anniversary of Greece’s independence.

The event included Consul General of Greece to New England Symeon Tegos and His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, who also met privately with Governor Dan McKee, Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-District 4, North Providence, Providence) and Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-District 19, Cumberland, Lincoln).

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 chamber, and atop the State House building. The State House dome was lit in blue and white in honor Greek Independence Day for the week. Following the ceremonies in the Senate and House chambers, a program was held in the Governor’s State Room, with remarks offered by Consul General Tegos, Governor McKee and Secretary of State Gregg Amore.  Also speaking was Captain Michael Paraskevopoulos of the Hellenic Navy, Ambassador Meron Reuben- Consul General of Israel to New England, and Avi Nevel of the RI Israel Collaborative. Andrea Vastis was this year’s co-emcee from the host community of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Pawtucket.

Rhode Island State Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis presiding over the 202nd anniversary of Greek Independence celebration held in the State Room on March 21. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)
Children from the communities of Rhode Island participated in the celebration. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)

The state’s Congressional delegation, Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen Cicilline and Magaziner sent letters of greetings and support, which were read at the celebration.

“For over 30 years, this event has been held in the General Assembly chambers and the State Room and it 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. “I want to thank the Senate for hosting this event, passing the resolution during their session, 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.”

Leaders of Rhode Island’s Greek community, Consul General of Greece to New England Symeon Tegos, and American Hellenic Institute President Nicholas Larigakis meeting with Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Person, Sen. Dawn Euer, and Senator Leonidas Raptakis in the Senate President’s office before the celebration. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)

As part of the main program in the Governor’s State Room, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston delivered the invocation and benediction. Fr. Andrew George and Fr. Nicholas Lanzourakis from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Cranston, Fr. Aaron Walker from the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church Newport, and Fr. Philip Zymaris of Assumption Pawtucket participated in the program. The audience joined together to sing the National Anthems of the United States and the Hellenic Republic.

His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston delivering the invocation to open the 202nd celebration of Greek Independence held at the Rhode Island State House. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)
Participants in the 202nd anniversary of Greek Independence celebration held in the State Room on March 21. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)

Nicholas Larigakis, President of the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, DC, delivered the keynote remarks. Also among the speakers was Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England First Vice President Kostas Travayakis.

Annunciation Church Greek Language teachers Koula Rougas and Ioanna Andreopoulou, Assumption Church teachers Panayiota Vastis, Stavroula Papavasileiou and Sophia Augoustakis, and St. Spyridon Church teachers Eleni Anagnostopoulos and Loula Eliopoulos facilitated the children’s program from their respective communities.  Parish council presidents and AHEPA presidents were also in attendance, including George Karalls and Ioannis Apostolakis of Assumption Church, Theofanos Markos and George Coclin of Annunciation Church, and Elaine Holder and Leon Panteleos of St. Spyridon Church. Demetria Carr, President of the Philoptochos from Annunciation, and Athena Eliopoulos, President of the Philoptochos from St. Spyridon, were also present.

Students from the Assumption community Markos Kimbouris and Harris Stathakis recited the poem To Ellinopoulo and Theodore Soares of St. Spyridon recited Glory and Honor. Andreas Taxiarchos of Annunciation recited The Glory.

Keynote speaker and American Hellenic Institute President Nick Larigakis at the podium during the celebration of Greek Independence held at the Rhode Island State House. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)

Eleni Demetroules, Theodoros Campos, and Evangelos Dokos from the Assumption community recited Long Live 1821 and Constantine Haralambidis of St. Spyridon recited the poem, Hellas. Konstantinos Marantidis, Alexander Taxiarchos, and Konstantinos Rougas from Annunciation sang hymns for the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and the Freedom of Greece.

Children from all three churches joined together and sang the song, ‘Oloi Doxa Oloi Hari’ (‘All Glory, All Grace’).

Consul General of Israel to New England Ambassador Meron Reuben. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)

The Rhode Island Senate passed a resolution (2023-S 0689) sponsored by Sen. Raptakis commemorating the Feast of the Annunciation and the 202nd Anniversary of Greece’s Independence and highlighting the continuing bonds between the United States and Greece. Most importantly, the resolution recognized the continuing support by the U.S. to the people of Greece, especially during the economic crisis that has plagued the country the last several years, and the expanding economic, energy partnership and military cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean. The resolution is available online: https://bit.ly/3zrXA4B.

Left to right: Fr. Philip Zymaris, Consul General of Israel to New England Ambassador Meron Reuben, Consul General of Greece in Boston Symeon Tegos, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Gov. Daniel McKee, Mrs. Dan Mckee, RI Secretary of State Gregory Amore (at podium) Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, Hellenic Navy Captain Michael Paraskevopoulos, Fr. Nicholas Lanzourakis, Rhode Island State Sen. Leonidas Raptakis, Co-Emcee Andrea Vastis, Fr. Ted Barbas, Fr. Andrew George, and Fr. Aaron Walker. (Photo: Courtesy of Sen. Leonidas Raptakis)

Rhode Island House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-District 23, Warwick) and Representative Joseph McNamara (D-District 19, Warwick, Cranston) hosted the Greek dignitaries in the House of Representatives, with Fr. Andrew George offering the invocation to open the House session along with Fr. Nicholas Lanzourakis.

A reception, sponsored by the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, was held in Pawtucket following the program at the State House.

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