PROVIDENCE, RI – State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis andthe Pawtucket Hellenic communityhosted a celebration of Greek Independence at the Rhode Island State House on March 30, bringing together state leaders and members of the Hellenic community to recognize the 196th anniversary of Greece’s independence.This is the twenty-fifthconsecutive celebration of the event, which included theGreek Vice-Consul General Maria Koukoustimeeting with the state’s new Senate President Domenic Ruggerio.
Throughout the day, Greece’s national flag was flown in fourdifferent areas of the Rhode Island State House, the Governors Stateroom, the Senate chamber, the House of Representatives chamber and atop ofthe Rhode Island Statehouse building.
Following the ceremonies in the Senate chamber, a program was held in the Governor’s State Room, with remarks offered byGreek Vice-Consul General Maria Koukousti, Governor Gina Raimondo,Lt. Governor Daniel McKee, Gus Tsiflidis- President of the Pan Pontian Federation of America and Canada and President of Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England Miltos Athanasopoulos.
Letters of congratulations from all the members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegationincluding U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) were read by State Senator Leonidas Raptakis. Fr.Andrew Georgeof the Annunciation Greek OrthodoxChurch brought greetings from Metropolitan Methodios of New England. This year’sco-Emcee was George Panichas Jr. from the Assumption Church.
“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.“I want to thank Senate PresidentDomenic Ruggerio and all of the general officerswho attended once again, coming together in the Rhode Island State House to take part in this special celebration including the many Hellenes, who participated from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire.”
Assumption’s Fr. Philip Zymaris delivered both the invocation and the benediction while the audience joined together to sing the national anthems of the United States and the Hellenic Republic.Fr. John Afendoulis ofthe St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Newport gave the invocation in the state House of Representatives and retired Rev. Dr. George Economou also took part in the program. Children from all three Greek Orthodox parishes made their individual presentations of poems and sang together “All Glory all Grace.”
(by Leonidas P. Raptakis office)
Also on hand were former AHEPA Supreme President Dr. John Grossomanides,Fr. Demetrios Panteloukas, Presiding Priest of Holy Trinity Church in Norwich, CT, and Former New Hampshire State Representative Estathia Booras.Attending all three events were The Dancing and Cultural Association Deropolis, from Epirus,which performed at the Assumption Church along withtheir dance director, Olga Fotos from Massachusetts.
Both the Rhode Island House and Senate passed resolutions commemorating the Feast of the Annunciation and the 196th Anniversary of Greece’s independence and highlighting the continuing bonds between both the United States and Greece. Most importantly, the resolution recognized the 70th anniversary of the Truman Doctrine and continuing support by the United States to the people of Greece, especially during the economic crises that has plagued the country for the last few years and the expanding economic partnership and military cooperation in the Mediterranean Sea.
Assumption hosted a reception following the program at the State House.