Event held in Cooperation with Hellenic Caucus Reaffirms Shared Democratic Ideals
WASHINGTON, DCThe American Hellenic Institute (AHI) celebrated the 191st anniversary of Greek Independence Day by hosting its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day,” on March 21, 2012. The common democratic ideals held by Greece and the United States were reaffirmed by several members of Congress at the event which was held in cooperation with the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
AHI President Nick Larigakis served as Master of Ceremonies. He welcomed the guests and thanked Representatives Bilirakis and Maloney for their support to organize the reception and for their ongoing efforts to promote Greek American issues in the U.S. Congress.
Members of Congress who addressed the audience included (in order of appearance): U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee; Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Michael Turner (R-OH).
Special guest speakers were Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Vassilis Kaskarelis and Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Pavlos Anastasiades.
The speakers emphasized their admiration for Hellenic culture and for the valiant and inspirational struggle for Greek Independence achieved in 1821. They also expressed their support for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue, a proper resolution to the FYROM name-recognition issue, and religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Dignitaries in attendance included: former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, former Congresswoman and Dina Titus, who is currently a congressional candidate for Nevada’s First Congressional District; Greek Defense Attaché, Col. Taxiarchis Sardellis, AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis and HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides. Representatives from the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) joined AHI and the Greek American community in celebration of Greek Independence.
During the evening, there was a presentation of traditional Greek dances performed by the Return to Origins Greek Folk Dance Troupe under the direction of Rena Papapostolou. The students of the Greek School of Saint Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, Va., sang the national anthems of the United States and Greece.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community. For more information about AHI, visit http://ahiworld.org.