President Obama’s (Early) Greek Independence Day Celebration

Mar 9, 2010 7:25pm

From Sunlen Miller:President Obama along with Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America celebrated Greek Independence Day, a few weeks early, this evening the East Room of the White House. ”Greek Independence Day isn’t for another few weeks.  But I’ll be on a trip to Asia, so I appreciate you coming early  – not that Greeks have ever needed an excuse to celebrate, let’s face it,” the president joked. The president made no mention specifically of the far less celebratory times in Greece as they are battling their own debt crisis, but did acknowledge that the country is facing troubling times. ”Like his father and his grandfather before him, the Prime Minister is leading Greece through challenging times.  But as I told him during our meeting in the Oval Office today, whether in good times or in bad times, the people of Greece will always have a friend and a partner in the United States of America.”Mr. Obama – excusing his own pronunciation – used the refrain “philotimo,” which means “love of honor” throughout this speech. ”It’s a sense of love, to family, and to community, and to country — the notion that what we’re here on this Earth to do is to be all in this together.  We all have obligations to each other and to work together.  And so it was that the democratic example of a small group of city states more than 2,000 years ago could inspire the founding generation of this country, that led one early American to imagine that “the days of Greece may be revived in the woods of America.”The president said that when he was a young child living in Indonesia his mother would wake him up early in the morning to teach him the legends of Greek mythology, among other books. ”It’s the sense of nobility and morality written in the pages of those timeless Greek texts, which have instructed students — and tormented them — down the ages, in every corner of the world.”The president said that the solidarity between the United States and Greece continues today – and said that in his private meeting with the Prime Minister this afternoon they discussed counterterrorism efforts between government, as well as Greece’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program. The event menu was prepared by Chef Cat Cora and featured dishes from her restaurant Kouzzina: Fisherman's Stew, Lamb Chops with Chimichurri Sauce, Grape Leaves with Truffle Avgolemeno and a selection of Greek salads. In the audience were numerous members of Congress, Greek members of the administration, and Greek American leaders. The president singled out his good friend, and basketball buddy from Chicago — Alexi Giannoulias who is the Democratic Senate nominee for the Illinois seat. ”We have some outstanding members of Congress who are here, and we’ve got at least one potential member of Congress,” Obama said pointing to his good friend Giannoulias. -Sunlen Miller 

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