WASHINGTON, DC – Among those in attendance at the U.S. Capitol at the presidential inauguration on January 20 were a few Greeks and Greek-Americans, including the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou who was the official representative of the Hellenic Republic at the event.
Ambassador Papadopoulou told The National Herald of the "happy atmosphere” despite the limits on how many could attend the historic swearing in of Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President. At the same time, she noted how well the security measures were implemented, pointing out that order was observed.
Also present at the ceremony were Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. Marios Lyssiotis, Greek-American Members of Congress John Sarbanes, Dina Titus, and Chris Pappas, and Manatos & Manatos President Mike Manatos, who also spoke with TNH about the event.
Mike Manatos and Rep. Chris Pappas at the inauguration. (Photo: Courtesy of Mike Manatos)
"What an emotional and triumphant day for our country!” Manatos commented, visibly moved, shortly after the end of the Ceremony, which attracted worldwide interest, perhaps more than any other inauguration, at least in recent decades.
"Despite the recent attack on the temple of democracy and the threats of further violence, despite the attack on our electoral process, despite the deep division in our country, despite the pandemic, despite his personal tragedies, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president along with the first woman, African-American and Asia-American vice president," said Manatos, who focused on the key words of Biden’s inaugural address.
"Dignity, kindness… compassion… renewal and determination… unity. Words that stirred my soul and gave me great hope for the future of our country,” he noted, emphasizing that the date of the swearing-in has a special meaning for him and his family.
"It also marks 60 years since my grandfather, Mike Manatos, became the first Greek-American to work for the White House as an aide to President John F. Kennedy's administration. I was blessed to be there again, 60 years later with my mind on him and watching a family friend of ours for years become President of the United States," said Manatos.
Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou at the inauguration. (Photo: TNH Staff)
The unprecedented strict safety protocol, on the one hand due to the pandemic and, on the other hand, due to the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol, forced the guests to go through an additional series of procedures in order to enter the site of the ceremony.
According to Manatos, the presence of the National Guard and police was very extensive, with the result that the ratio of guests-uniforms reached numbers which would be unheard of in a normal year.
"This was the fourth presidential inauguration I have attended and I have never seen anything like it. There were about 30 soldiers and police officers for each guest,” Manatos noted.
In addition to the security checks, the invited guests had to also have a recent negative coronavirus test as a precondition for entry.
Mike Manatos and Ambassador Marios Lyssiotis and his wife, Eleni Michaelidou-Lysioti, at the inauguration. (Photo: Courtesy of Mike Manatos)
"It took us a while to get through the security checks. This year, another checkpoint was added, which concerned the COVID test. Each guest needed a negative coronavirus test 48 hours earlier," explained Manatos.
Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) posted on Twitter as he arrived at the event: “Bundled up and looking forward to swear in President @JoeBiden and Vice President @KamalaHarris. #Inauguration2021."
The post is available online: https://twitter.com/RepSarbanes/status/1351923088917737475.