Surrounded by Greek-American politicians and community leaders U.S. President Joe Biden marked Greek Independence Day at the White House on Wednesday.
One of the featured guests included the actress Rita Wilson, who is of Greek descent and performed four songs including one in Greek for the first time.
Rita Wilson performing at the @WhiteHouse for Greek Independence Day pic.twitter.com/wEK923Xtu7
— Lena Argiri (@lenaargiri) March 29, 2023
“The world owes a great deal of debt to Greece, including the revolutionary idea of a democracy,” Biden told the audience. “It was revolutionary at the time, which continues to deliver for the people to this day.
After Wilson’s performance, Biden returned to the stage to praise her while joking that “the only thing I worry about is your taste in men.”
Her husband, acclaimed actor Tom Hanks, responded as he joined Biden and Wilson on stage: “No, I am not Greek, but I had the good sense to marry one.”
The @POTUS Joe Biden is joined by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson to celebrate Greek Independence Day at the White House. pic.twitter.com/W0SBAWxUM7
— e-Αmyna (@e_amyna) March 29, 2023
Celebrating the annual Greek Independence Day at the White House “is a special honor afforded by the US government to Hellenism, as the Greek and Irish communities are the only ethnic groups in the US that celebrate their national anniversary at the White House every year,” stress Greek media.
Greek immigrants have always enriched what it means to be American.
They've fanned the flame of liberty that started as a flicker in Athens thousands of years ago.
Tonight, we recommit to keeping the flame alive – and work together toward a future of hope and possibility.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 30, 2023
This particular event, in addition to its strong communications aspect, offers a first-class opportunity to the Greek-American community to convey messages to the US political leadership.
US President Joe Biden met with his Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The two sides had a private meeting, in which the Archbishop reportedly asked for US support in protecting the religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Turkey.
Addressing the guests, Joe Biden referred to the common cultural ties that connect the two countries, as well as the ancient Greek ideals, which inspired the founding fathers of American democracy. Bearing this in mind, he explained that he considers it particularly fitting that the Second Summit for Democracy began in Washington on the same day that the anniversary of Greek independence was celebrated at the White House.
sources: AP, amna, others