A big crowd of Greeks and Greek Americans in Washington have gathered to listen to an address by U.S. President Donald Trump at an event to honor the men and women who fought for Greece’s independence.
Trump, standing beside Thessaloniki-born Archbishop Demetrios, said the tradition of the White House hosting Greek Independence Day celebrations was one which would continue for many more years.
“I’ll be here for another seven,” he told the audience.
The U.S. leader went on to say Greece remained the basis of Western culture and civilization, referring to the “cultural and historical kinship” between the West and the ancient Greeks.
He also recalled how America’s founding fathers looked to the history of the Greek city states when drafting the U.S. Constitution.
The crowd cheered at the mention of Greece as the birthplace of Democracy. “All around us here in the United States, we see the profound influence of Greek culture, art, and philosophy,” said Trump.
He spoke of national landmarks found throughout the United States capital and the obvious influence of Greek architecture in their construction.
Trump praised the patriots of the Greek independence war who fought for the country’s “sovereignty and its right to self-determination”.
Archbishop Demetrios, while thanking Trump for his support, also called for U.S. backing on key issues such as religious freedom in Turkey (home of the Ecumenical Patriarchate), ending division in Cyprus and in resolving the name dispute between Greece and FYROM.
The White House celebration of Greece’s liberation from Ottoman rule and the current ties between Greece and the U.S. was first started by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 with the help of Father Alex Karloutsos, Tom Korologos and Andy Manatos.
It has since become a White House tradition. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have all hosted the event.
This year also saw a performance by young dancers in traditional Greek costume and bouzouki musicians who performed for a veritable who’s-who of Greek and Greek-American society.