27 March, 2007
US Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England on Tuesday night stressed the self-denial and virtues of the Greeks who, despite the adversities, deservingly gained their national independence, during a reception held at the Greek Embassy in Washington marking the March 25 Greek National Independence Day, attended by many US officials.
England compared the significance of the Greek Independence anniversary with that of the 4th of July national holiday for the Americans, and also the anniversary of the sacrifice of the Americans at Los Alamos in his home state of Texas, which he in turn compared with the sacrifice of Leonidas and his 300 men in the Battle of Thermopylae.
The US official also paid tribute to the contribution of the Greek-Americans in US society, recalling the Congressional Medal of Honor conveyed to a Greek-American soldier in World War I, calling the Greek-Americans an example of the courageous spirit that characterizes the two countries.
The US, he said, was happy to have Greece as an ally and friend, adding that the two countries shared the values of respect for democracy, law, human rights and individual freedoms.
Among the guests at the reception were Secretary for Veteran Affairs Mr. Jim Nicholson, as well as a plethora of US State Department and Pentagon officials and members of the diplomatic community in Washington. On the Greek side, guests included Hellenic Parliament former vice-president Panayotis Sgouridis, former minister of national economy and of defense Yannos Papantoniou, ELAS (Greek Police) chief Anastasios Dimoschakis, Hellenic Culture Foundation president Prof. George Babiniotis, and European Public Law Centre director Prof. Spyridon Flogaitis.
For the full text of Under Secretary's speech click here
A recital by pianist Alexandros Kapelis was also held at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington to celebrate the Greek national anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of the signing of the EU's founding Treaty of Rome.
The Embassy had also held another reception, open to the Greek-American community, on Sunday, during which Greece's ambassador to the US Alexandros Mallias stressed the significance of the anniversary of the Greek revolution, and of the establishment of the then European Economic Community (EEC, now the European Union), as well as the decisive contribution of the Greeks and Greek civilization to the European Idea. Babiniotis, one of the keynote speakers at the event, focused on the importance of Greek education and its significant role in the formation of the Greek identity and the creation of a national consciousness that formed the ideological foundation for the March 25, 1821 revolution against Ottoman rule.
Another reception was held Tuesday at the US State Department for representatives and journalists from the European Union's 27 member states marking the EU's 50th anniversary, during which U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, mentioning his Greek origin, underlined Greece's influence on what is currently called the united Europe. He also noted on the occasion that March 25 is Greek Independence Day.
Negroponte was followed by the European Commission's ambassador in Washington, former Irish prime minister John Brutton, who referred to the considerable contribution of Ancient Greece and of its philosophers to the shaping of the principles that govern the EU.
American speakers congratulated Europe for its achievement, terming it "an example worth copying," while the Europeans thanked the United States and the "visionary American foreign policy" of the postwar period which, as they said, helped Europe to attain what it has achieved.