[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 35 (Tuesday, March 18, 1997)]
[House]
[Pages H1083-H1090]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




       GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY, 176 YEARS OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Gibbons). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 7, 1997, the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Bilirakis] 
is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to honor the spirit 
of freedom by commemorating 176 years of Greek independence. March 25 
is Greek Independence Day, and every year I speak on the House floor to 
recognize this important historical event.
  The significance of Greek Independence Day can never be overstated. 
Like the Fourth of July, it continues to remind all of us to honor 
freedom regardless of the price.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, my very good 
friend and colleague [Mr. Gekas], at this point.
  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. We have 
grown accustomed to the gentleman from Florida and his repetitive and 
necessary emphasis on Greek Independence Day and its celebration 
throughout the world.
  The most noteworthy part of the celebration in which Americans of 
Greek descent yearly participate has to do, in my judgment, with the 
historical partnership of the American democracy and the way our 
country, the United States, gained its independence, and that which 
followed in the 1820's when the Greek nationals began their movement 
for independence.

                              {time}  2000

  What was the common bond that the American institution of 
independence had with its later Greek movement for independence in the 
1820's? It was their own Greek heritage. That is, the ideals of 
democracy and self-government which were first practiced by the 
classical Greeks were the foundation for the Jeffersons and Madisons 
and the Adamses and the Washingtons as they moved strenuously to bring 
their country into a mode of freedom. The Declaration of Independence 
and the Constitution that followed all were based in the authorship of 
the American Founders themselves, founded on the principles of 
classical Greek democracy, Athenian democracy.
  And so 50 years later, when Greece itself felt the need to overthrow 
the yoke of Turkish domination, they were harking back to two 
historical events: First, the American independence movement and, still 
further back, in which both democracies had relied so heavily, the 
classical Greek democracy.
  So how did I learn this lesson? In the parochial setting of our Greek 
school, church-related studies, it became evident to me that America 
was as much a part of the Greek revolution in 1821 as was the raising 
of the flag by Father Germanos and all the heroic exploits of the great 
generals of Greek independence.
  As a matter of fact, in the city of Philadelphia, the City of 
Brotherly Love, the public officials of that day in the 1820's spoke 
mightily of the need for the international community to come to the aid 
of the Greek independence movement. And in fact President Monroe, on 
many occasions, was insistent upon American spiritual and moral and 
material aid for the potential overthrow of the Turkish domination of 
Greece.
  Members of the House of Representatives in which we stand tonight 
were eloquent in their phraseology of freedom, just as the gentleman 
from Florida began his dissertation this evening, with the celebration 
of freedom. His predecessors and mine on the floor of the House of 
Representatives in the 1820's were repetitive and strongly exhortative 
of the movement of freedom on the Greek mainland.
  So when the gentleman says, as he does rightly, that this is a 
celebration of freedom, it is a celebration of American freedom just as 
much as it is this small setting of Greek independence that arose in 
the 1820's. That is what makes it so extraordinarily valuable to us of 
Greek descent, Americans of Greek descent. Here we are, privileged 
enough to be Members of the Congress of the United States where our 
every day, our every breath is spent in trying to improve our country, 
the United States. And it happens that our heritage, the parents that 
we had who came from another world and from another era, were able to 
inculcate in us the spirit of freedom and independence and democracy 
which they and their forefathers knew so well in their country of 
origin, and then they make sure that we in our education, in our 
commitment to faith, in our interrelationships with our fellow 
Americans, that we never forget that the spirit of freedom that began 
with that wonderful Athenian democracy can be practiced by their sons 
and daughters on the very floor of the most, the strongest station of 
freedom that the world has ever known, the Congress of the United 
States.
  I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. He is always so 
very eloquent on all subjects, I might add.
  I now yield to the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Pappas], one of our 
newest Members of the House, very welcome here.
  Mr. PAPPAS. Mr. Speaker, I proudly rise today and join my 
distinguished colleague and dear friend from Florida in recognizing the 
great achievement of the 176th anniversary of Greek independence from 
the Ottoman Empire.
  Over 200 years ago, America's Founding Fathers turned to Greece, the 
birthplace of democracy, as an idol in setting the course as a new 
nation. It was only fitting that Greece in turn look to the United 
States 50 years later as a role model for democratic government after 
struggling under the oppressive Ottoman Empire.
  Living under the rule of the Ottoman Empire fostered a revolutionary 
spirit in its people who had been subjected to decades of slavery, 
abuse, and cultural deprivation. It is this spirit that we recognize 
today. We recognize the spirit of Greeks that have gone on before, the 
Greeks that have brought so much to this country and those Greek-
Americans living here today.
  A well-known Greek revolutionary who was burned alive by the Turks 
said in one of his famous poems that ``I would rather live free for one 
hour than suffer slavery and imprisonment for 40 years.''
  The United States-Greek relationship is among our strongest. Greece 
has fought by the side of the United States in numerous tests 
throughout the years. Both countries share a passion for freedom. 
Greece has sent some of its brightest to the shores of America to 
pursue dreams in this, the land of opportunity.
  My grandparents emigrated to the United States of America early in 
this century. My mother's parents, Stelios and Olga Macaronis, were 
born in a village called Atsiki on the island of Lemnos in the Aegean 
Sea. My paternal grandmother, Anastasia Pappas, was from Athens, and my 
father's father, whose name was Mike Pappas, was born in Smyrna, which 
is now part of Turkey.
  They worked hard to learn the language and supported a growing 
family. They became U.S. citizens. They started businesses. They had 
children and, yes, they had grandchildren. One of these grandchildren 
today is a Member of the U.S. Congress.
  The United States has given our Greek-American family the opportunity 
to see these dreams come through. As a Member of this Congress, I share 
the responsibility to ensure that the opportunity for the realization 
of these types of dreams will always be possible for others.
  Winning the election last year to the U.S. Congress was a great 
responsibility or is a great responsibility and honor. However, in 
reading the papers the day after the election, my favorite pictures are 
not the ones with me and my supporters at the election celebration. It 
was the pictures of me taking my grandmother, Olga Macaronis, to vote 
just as I have done for many years.
  My grandmother, Olga Macaronis, is 94 years old today, and I do not 
think that she has ever missed an election in

[[Page H1084]]

her many years since becoming a citizen. While taking her to vote to 
the polls, you can sense her sense of civic duty. I guess the respect 
and sense of responsibility rubbed off on me, and that is part of the 
reason why I became involved in public service.
  Another great quality that you cannot help but notice within the 
Greek-American community is its strong entrepreneurial spirit. Not only 
strong businesses but strong families, churches, and communities.
  The reason I come to the well of this Chamber and talk a lot about 
tax relief, regulatory relief, small businesses, and balancing our 
budget is because of the basic commonsense upbringing that I had in a 
small business with my dad, Jim Pappas, or talking to my friends like 
George and Peter Stavrianidis. The tight interrelationship between 
family, friends and community businesses is critically important to all 
Greek Americans.

  As a new Member of Congress, I am very honored to see so many leaders 
on both sides of the political aisle recognize the significance of the 
United States-Greek relationship. I hope to add to this as the newest 
Member of this Congress of Greek descent.
  Greece has survived through a lot of turmoil over the years and has 
reached maturity because of its people: proud, God-fearing, freedom-
loving, and, yes, peaceful. And that has nourished and upheld the 
ideals on which their modern nation was conceived on March 25, 1821. It 
is this heritage that we, the thousands of Greek-Americans, bring to 
the United States of America.
  I want to thank my colleague and friend from Florida, chairman of the 
Hellenic Caucus, for the opportunity to address this issue which is so 
close to my heart.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for doing so very 
well.
  The Greek struggle for independence, as has already been related by 
Mr. Gekas and Mr. Pappas, is filled with stories of heroes and acts of 
heroism. It is the story of the Hydriots, seafarers who broke the 
Ottoman naval blockade. It is the story of Bishop Germanos of Patras 
who raised the Greek flag at the Peloponnese Monastery of Agias Lavras 
and cried out, Eleftheria I Thanotos, liberty or death.
  It is the story of Philhellenes, like Lord Byron, who gave his life 
for this cause. It is also the story of U.S. President James Monroe, 
who said the following in his 1822 State of the Union Address, and I 
quote:

       The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted 
     sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of 
     which our nature is susceptible. That such a country should 
     have been overwhelmed and so long hidden, as it were, from 
     the world under a gloomy despotism has been a cause of 
     unceasing and deep regret to generous minds for ages past. A 
     strong hope is entertained that these people will recover 
     their independence and resume their equal station among the 
     nations of the earth.

  These acts of courage, Mr. Speaker, and the words of President Monroe 
serve to highlight an important bond between America and Greece: the 
love of freedom. Like our Founding Fathers, the Greek people sought the 
right to govern themselves and to determine their own destiny. They 
felt that there is nothing more precious than freedom and democracy.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Pallone].
  Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I just want to begin as I do every year, by 
thanking the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Bilirakis] for organizing this 
hour to honor the anniversary of Greek independence day. As you know, 
he is the chairman of the Hellenic caucus. He works tirelessly and is 
an outspoken champion really of Greek-American relations. I thank him 
for his tireless effort to strengthen the ties between our two 
countries.
  I just wanted to say, many of us here in Congress are staunchly 
committed to preserving and strengthening the ties between the Greek 
and the American people. It is very important. I think sometimes people 
diminish the significance of these commemoratory evenings as we are 
having now, but I think it is very important that we speak out and talk 
about Greek independence day and talk about the ties that bind the 
Greek and the American people.
  I usually try to find a quote for this occasion. And I just wanted to 
mention, I found one from Daniel Webster, who just 2 years after the 
Greek people began the revolution that would lead to their freedom, 
mentioned, and this is a quote, he talked about the oppression that the 
Greeks were having to deal with under rule by the Ottoman Empire and he 
said, and I quote, ``This, the Greek people, a people of intelligence, 
ingenuity, refinement, spirit and enterprise, have been for centuries 
under the atrocious and unparalleled barbarism that ever oppressed the 
human race.''
  If you think of Congressman Webster's words in describing the Greek 
people, intelligence, ingenuity, refinement, spirit and enterprise, 
they are certainly no less apt today as they were when he said those 
words, I guess it is, I do not know how many years ago. I am sure it is 
over 100 years ago now.
  The other thing that I think we need to point out and we have and Mr. 
Bilirakis has many times is how Greece has been a staunch military ally 
of the United States in World War I. In War II, when Hitler's war 
machine was decimating Europe, Greece joined the United States to 
repulse perhaps the greatest threat to freedom the world has ever seen.
  We hear about the historic battle of Crete in which the spirit of the 
Greek people forced Hitler to delay his planned invasion of Russia, one 
of the most important battles of the Second World War. Of course, in 
the aftermath of the Second World War, Greece became a NATO ally and 
has been to this day joining forces with the United States and played 
no small role in preserving and protecting the freedoms enjoyed by an 
unprecedented number of the world's people.
  The other thing that I think about is the contribution that Greek-
Americans have made to this country. If you think about Webster's words 
again, these values that have guided the Greek Americans to the top of 
some of the Nation's most competitive professions, law, the arts, 
entertainment, the sporting world, education and medicine and, of 
course, government, we see so many Greek-American Congressmen here 
tonight and in the Congress, but perhaps the most enduring of Greek 
qualities is that of endurance itself.
  The Greeks gave the world democracy, and today the world is as free 
as it ever has been. There are more democracies now than there ever 
have been, I think, historically. Four hundred years of control by the 
Ottoman Empire could not, as Webster observed, overcome the Greek 
people's determination to be free. And this is no less advisable in 
modern times.

                              {time}  2015

  I just wanted to mention Cyprus, because for almost 23 years now 
Greece has stood firm in its determination to bring freedom and 
independence to the illegally occupied nation of Cyprus. Like their 
forefathers, who were under the control of a hostile foreign power for 
four centuries, the Cypriot people hold fast in defiance of their 
Turkish aggressors with every confidence that they will again be a 
sovereign nation. And I believe they will, and the United States will 
be by their side in both the fight to secure that freedom and the 
celebration to mark the day when it finally arrives.
  I want to say in conclusion, again, to congratulate the Greek people 
for 176 years of independence, thank them for their contributions to 
American life, and thank the gentleman again, Mr. Bilirakis, for making 
sure that we do this special order every year on a regular basis.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for again joining 
in this special order, this remembrance and this celebration.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to say at this time that the gentlewoman 
from New York [Mrs. Maloney], my cochairman of the Hellenic caucus, was 
on the floor, but she took ill and had to leave and asked me to insert 
her remarks in the Record, and I do miss her attendance here today and 
her participation.
  But Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from California [Mr. Filner] is with 
us today and I would recognize him at this time.
  Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman, and like the previous 
speakers, I thank Mr. Bilirakis for this annual special order in which 
we take some time to remember our relationship and our debt to the 
people and the

[[Page H1085]]

nation of Greece. It is a privilege and an honor to participate with 
him.
  We all know that March 25 will mark the 176th anniversary of the 
struggle that ultimately freed the Greek people from the Ottoman 
Empire. Back then, in 1821, the Greeks raised the flag of revolution 
against 400 years of Turkish rule and began a series of wars that 
lasted a full decade and resulted in freedom for the nation of Greece.
  We look to Greece for many of our cultural attributes, whether it is 
science, literature, art, architecture, philosophy. For over 2,000 
years we have looked to Greece for inspiration.
  Before I entered this Chamber, Mr. Bilirakis, I taught a course on 
the history of science at the university level; spent a good part of 
that course on the contributions of ancient Greece.
  It was in the 6th and 5th century B.C. that the Athenians and the 
Greeks living in the Ionian cities for the first time asked rational 
questions about the natural world we live in and demanded rational 
answers. Whether it was on the structure of the universe or the nature 
of the human body, they invented what we call science. The process that 
they began back then, in fact, became the most productive and the most 
profound method of trying to discover truth in the world, and we owe 
the Greeks that.
  We look at Greeks, of course, foremost for the model of democracy 
that they gave us. I think every democratic nation on earth, past and 
present, has owed a debt to the Greeks, who said that human beings can 
rule themselves. We have the capacity, we have the intelligence to, in 
fact, rule ourselves. We do not have to look at kings, we do not have 
to look at outside forces. We can do it ourselves.
  As the gentleman knows, there was some debate earlier on spending 
limits. I think the Greeks might have laughed at that. They believed, 
in terms of their democracy, that everybody who was a citizen could 
serve in their assembly or other offices, and they chose their leaders 
each year by lot, by random selection. There were no campaigns for 
office that they had to put campaign spending limits on. Term limits 
were also built into their system. An individual served for a year and 
then returned to their job, and it seemed to work very well, at least 
for the cities of Greece at that time.
  Our Founding Fathers certainly looked to the Greek model of democracy 
as they drafted our Constitution. During World War II, as we have 
heard, Americans and Greeks stood shoulder to shoulder in the 
battlefields of Europe as we fought for freedom. And certainly in 
recent years Americans and Greeks have watched with pride as nations 
all over the world have rejected tyranny and embraced the democratic 
ideals we both share. Americans and Greeks alike understand the 
importance of supporting the seeds of democracy around the world and 
working toward a day when everyone is permitted the rights and 
liberties that our country so cherishes.
  Mr. Speaker, Greek Independence Day celebrates the fight against 
oppression and the struggle for freedom. We thank the gentleman again 
for helping us to remember that each year. This weekend when I go back 
to San Diego, I am proud to be joining the Greek community in my 
hometown for a grand celebration of Greek Independence Day, and I wish 
the entire Greek-American community a joyous celebration of Greek and 
American democracy.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his very 
profound remarks and for participating in this special order. And I 
suppose maybe the most draconian but possibly best form of campaign 
reform might be the lot process. I am not sure whether we would all 
agree that that is the way we should go.
  Continuing on, Mr. Speaker, at one time or another we have all read 
the passionate and stirring words of our American patriot Patrick 
Henry. It was 222 years ago on March 23, 1775, that Mr. Henry 
admonished all of history when he proclaimed, and I quote, ``Is life so 
dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and 
slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may 
take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.'' We all learned 
that certainly in our schooling.
  This same yearning for freedom, Mr. Speaker, would echo throughout 
the hearts and minds of every Greek patriot fighting for liberty. As 
these Greek freedom fighters boldly challenged Ottoman-Turk domination, 
they too proclaimed the defiant battle cry, ``eletheria I thanatos!'' 
Liberty or death.
  During this battle for freedom rose the exceptional figure of 
Demetrios Ypsilantis. In 1825, Ypsilantis, along with 300 soldiers, 
defended the Castle of Argos for 3 days against an army of 30,000 
Turks. After they had exhausted their ammunition, Ypsilantis, along 
with his 300 men, secretly escaped through Turkish lines without any 
losses.
  This brave feat moved the whole world. The story reached as far as 
the United States. In fact, so inspired were the inhabitants of a new 
town in Michigan that they decided to name the town after Ypsilantis. 
Today the town of Ypsilantis, MI, has 30,000 people and a statue of 
Demetrios Ypsilantis still stands next to the old water tower.
  This epic account certainly illustrates the common bond and heritage 
that both the United States and Greece share. The relationship between 
our two countries is based on mutual respect and admiration.
  Like many Americans, Mr. Speaker, I am the son of immigrants who 
taught me a great love for the United States. I am proud that the 
values of freedom and democracy that we as Americans hold so dear 
originated in ancient Greece. We are all reminded that these democratic 
principles born so long in Greece were embraced by our Founding 
Fathers. Others have said this. It is an example of the ancient Greeks 
that we recognize each March the 25th.
  We also celebrate the return of democracy to Greece on this day of 
glory for the Greek people. The spirit of democracy lives on. Many 
today continue to give their lives in order to defend its principles. 
We owe it to those defenders of democracy that we honor the freedom and 
independence of Greece on the floor of the House of Representatives 
here tonight, the world's greatest hall of democracy. In doing so, I 
think that we reaffirm the democratic heritage that Greece and the 
United States have shared throughout the years.
  These principles are not uniquely Greek or American. However, our 
battles for democracy have given courage to the rest of the world. 
Freedom and independence form a legacy that we cherish and have a 
responsibility to protect and to defend. We must ensure that the light 
of liberty shines bright throughout the world. Wherever it is not, we 
have a responsibility to share our example.
  Unfortunately, today liberty is not shining in all parts of the 
world. One need only to look at the current civil unrest in Albania or 
the dictatorship in Cuba to realize that more work must be done. While 
the Berlin Wall has been dismantled and Russia has been opened to the 
world, the Nicosia wall continues to divide the country of Cyprus.
  Mr. Speaker, we must stop this senseless division. A divided Cyprus 
only serves to fuel more tension between Greece and Turkey. In fact, 
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in her own testimony before the 
House Committee on International Relations stated that, and I quote her 
words, ``The dispute divides more than two Cypriot communities; it 
continues to act as a wedge between two NATO allies, Turkey and Greece. 
In doing so, it threatens European stability and our vital interests.''
  According to Secretary Albright, the United States, and I quote her, 
``Is prepared to play a larger role in promoting a resolution to the 
conflict.''
  As lovers of freedom, Americans cannot continue to tolerate the 
aggressive behavior of Turkey, which still suppresses the light of 
liberty in Cyprus. As we celebrate democracy today, let us remember 
that our fight is not over; that more work must be done, but that 
together we can ensure that freedom and democracy comes to Cyprus.
  Mr. HORN. Mr. Speaker, this is the 176th anniversary of Greek 
independence, following 400 years of control by the Ottoman Empire. As 
the birthplace of democracy, America has a special debt to Greece.
  America is committed to Greece as an ally in the fight for freedom 
and democracy. That commitment was renewed by the Truman doctrine and 
more recently within the NATO community.

[[Page H1086]]

  America also is indebted to the great service of the Greek-American 
community, including Members of this House such as Congressman 
Bilirakis.
  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join with my colleagues to 
pay tribute to Greece, a nation that has contributed much to the 
civilized world. On March 25, we celebrate the 176th anniversary of 
Greek independence.
  It was on this day in 1821 that, as one of the stories goes, Bishop 
Germanos of Patras declared in St. George's Square ``Eleftheria I(ee) 
Thanatos'': Freedom or death. The phrase became the battle cry of the 
Greeks and all who came to their aid in the ensuing revolution to end 
400 years of Ottoman rule.
  More than 2,000 years after it brought forth the concept of 
democracy, Greece would begin its long struggle for independence, and 
the right to claim for itself that which it had so selflessly given to 
the rest of the free world: governance by the people. It is the 
etymology of the word ``democracy'': ``demos'' meaning people, 
``kratos'' meaning state, hence the people's state.
  Half way around the world, another young nation was in the midst of 
its growing pains. The United States of America, barely 45 years old in 
1821, was putting into practice, the principles of ancient Greece. The 
ideals of Greek democracy were not lost on our forefathers who drew 
inspiration from the ancient traditions. ``To the Ancient Greeks,'' 
said Thomas Jefferson, ``we are all indebted for the light which led 
ourselves out of Gothic darkness.''
  Time and again, the Greeks have shown themselves to be fierce 
protectors of democratic ideals. During World War II, in the mountains 
of northern Greece, shepherds turned rebel fighters used the terrain 
and meager arms to baffle the Axis and slow the Nazi march into the 
Balkans. One in seven Greeks died for freedom during the war.
  In times of peace and prosperity too, the contributions of the Greek 
community are immeasurable. Greek-Americans have played a significant 
role in all aspects to American life. Here in this Chamber, the 
children of Greek immigrants have brought their legacy and inspiration, 
and have made this place a better one for their contributions. The 
social fabric that is San Francisco would be less vibrant, less vital 
were it not for the presence of the Greek-American community which has 
worked tirelessly in the best interests of diversity.
  Mr. MEEHAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in celebration of Greek 
independence from the Ottoman Empire. March 25, 1997, will mark the 
176th anniversary of the start of Greece's struggle for independence. A 
historic series of uprisings against the Greek's Turkish oppressors 
began on this day. Soon the nation would erupt into a revolution 
attracting international attention and support.
  The struggle of the Greek people against the Ottoman Empire 
exemplifies the remarkable ability of a people to overcome all 
obstacles if the will to endure is strong enough and the goal, freedom, 
is bright enough.
  Today, the United States of America represents what we know as true 
freedom and democracy. Although no nation is perfect in its policies, 
America is still considered the standard by which citizens around the 
world compare their own governments. People living under oppressive 
regimes have looked to the United States for generations to gain 
strength in their struggles to overcome their oppressors.
  The parallels between the two countries, the United States and 
Greece, are remarkable. American political thought was influenced just 
as much by Greek [philosophy as the Greek revolution of 1821 was 
inspired by the American fight for freedom in 1776. In fact, Greek 
intellectuals translated our Declaration of Independence and used it as 
their own declaration. The incredible historical struggles we share 
have created a bond between our two nations that goes far beyond 
present day foreign relations, trade agreements and security pacts.
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent a large and active Greek 
community in the Fifth District of Massachusetts. As a supporter of 
issues of concern in the Greek-American community, I would like to 
recognize this population and their interests. Greek civilization 
touches our lives as Americans, and enhances the cultural existence of 
this great Nation.
  Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the 176th 
anniversary of Greek Independence Day, which is on March 24. I use this 
occasion not only to mark Greek independence, but also to celebrate the 
unique relationship that exists between the Greek and American peoples.
  As almost every school child knows, modern democracy has its roots in 
the ancient Athenian system of government that was developed over 2,500 
years ago. While the democratic ideals developed during this time did 
not always rule in Greece, the writings of its leaders and philosophers 
have influenced generations of people in almost every country around 
the world.
  Among those who were influenced by ancient Greek philosophers was 
American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who taught himself how to 
read Greek at an early age. In his adulthood, Jefferson called upon his 
knowledge of the Greek tradition of democracy when writing the 
Declaration of Independence and other important works, which were a 
catalyst to American independence from the British. Years later, 
Jefferson's writings helped inspire the Greek people to rise up and 
successfully win their independence from the Ottoman Empire--the very 
event that we celebrate today.
  This close and symbiotic relationship continues to this day. Greece 
is one of the only countries to have supported the United States during 
every major international conflict this century, and it plays a vital 
role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States, in 
turn, has worked to bring a peaceful solution to the situation on the 
island of Cyprus, which was brutally invaded by Turkey in 1974.
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join my colleagues in celebrating Greek 
Independence Day. I salute the Greek people for having the courage to 
break the bonds of oppression 176 years ago and I look forward to 
continued cooperation between our two nations. Finally, I would like to 
salute my distinguished colleague from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis, for 
arranging this special order today.
  Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, in commemoration of March 
25, 1997, the 176th anniversary of Greek independence from oppressive 
Ottoman rule, I would like to acknowledge and honor the tremendous 
contributions that the Greek people have made to the world. The 
invaluable scientific, philosophical, and cultural gifts of the Greek 
people are countless, and all have come in spite of the historical 
adversity this determined nation has faced.
  March 25, 1821, marked the Greek Declaration of Independence, a day 
ending almost 400 years of subjugation and persecution at the hands of 
the Ottoman Empire. Deprived of civil rights, as well as access to the 
educational and religious institutions for which they were famous, the 
Greeks waged a valiant war of independence to reacquire for themselves 
the vital rights they themselves had established for the rest of the 
world to enjoy.
  The hard-won victory for independence has been followed by continuous 
adversity which the Greeks have repeatedly overcome and still been able 
to thrive. Greece has been a true friend to America and has aligned 
with the United States for every major conflict in the 20th century. 
This loyalty and dedication to the tenets of freedom did not come at a 
cheap price--over 600,000 Greeks lost their lives in World War II while 
fighting against the Axis Powers. Since that time, Greece again 
unflinchingly sided with the forces of democracy by joining the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] in 1952 in spite of Soviet threats 
of dire consequences for such action.
  Greece continues to inspire the rest of the world with its persistent 
dedication to democracy and freedom, and it has particularly blessed 
the United States with 1.1 million Americans of Greek ancestry who 
continue to exemplify the importance of family, education, and hard 
work. Born right here in our Nation's Capital, Pete Sampras, the No. 1 
tennis player in the world, is but one Greek-American whose work-ethic 
and determination epitomizes the rich heritage for which all Americans 
should be thankful.
  I am proud to represent the many Greek-Americans living in the 
Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania and contributing to the 
diverse culture we enjoy. These hard-working families demonstrate the 
values and cohesion to which all Americans aspire.
  As we look to March 25, let us bear in mind the tremendous sacrifices 
made by Greece and appreciate the democracy that we, as Americans, 
enjoy in large measure because of Greece's role as the birthplace of 
democracy.
  Mr. MANTON. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join my colleague and friend, 
Mr. Bilirakis, to mark the 176th anniversary of the revolution 
liberating the people of Greece from the nearly 400 years of domination 
by the Ottoman Empire.
  We, as Americans, owe much to the country of Greece. The very 
foundation of our form of Government and the freedoms we enjoy are 
based upon the democratic teachings of early Greece. The Greek culture 
has played a crucial role in fostering freedom and democracy throughout 
the world. In the great words of Charles Eliot Norton, ``A knowledge of 
Greek thought and life, and of the arts in which the Greeks expressed 
their thought and sentiment, is essential to high culture.''
  The relationship between Greece and the United States is one based on 
mutual respect and admiration. This is illustrated in Greece's national 
anthem, ``* * * There was heartfelt joy in the land of Washington 
remembering the chains which had tied them too.'' Our Founding Fathers 
and the American Revolution served as ideals for the Greek people

[[Page H1087]]

when they began their modern fight for independence in the 1820's. The 
Greeks translated the United States Declaration of Independence into 
their own language so they could share in the same ideas of freedom as 
the United States.
  Mr. Speaker, the relationship between the United States and Greece 
has continued and thrived in modern times. Greece is one of only three 
countries in the world that has been allied with the United States in 
every international conflict this century. More than 600,000 Greek 
soldiers died fighting against the Axis Powers during World War II. 
Many Greek soldiers continued their fight for freedom and democracy 
after World War II when they fought against Communist rebels who 
threatened the liberty of the Greek people, however, the Greeks were 
successful in ensuring the stability and strength of democracy in their 
victorious nation.
  On this occasion of commemorating the unique and historic 
relationship between the United States and Greece, I invite my 
colleagues to join me as a Member of the Congressional Caucus on 
Hellenic Issues. It is an excellent chance for Members to work together 
in a bipartisan manner on issues which effect all Greeks and Greek-
Americans.
  Mr. Speaker, I intend to continue my strong commitment to the Greek 
Community on issues which effect them, including the permanent solution 
of the Cyprus problem; promoting a positive relationship between Greece 
and Macedonia; as well as ensuring that the countries of Turkey and 
Albania cease their infringement on human rights and violations of 
international law.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in celebrating the 
strong friendship between the people of the United States and Greece 
and pay tribute to the important contributions the Greek culture and 
Greek-Americans have made throughout the world.
  Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 176th 
anniversary of Greece's independence from the Ottoman Empire, and to 
celebrate the shared democratic heritage of Greece and the United 
States. I thank my colleague from Florida, Congressman Bilirakis, for 
organizing this special order and for his leadership on issues of 
importance to the Greek-American community.
  On March 25, 1821, after more than 400 years of Ottoman Turk 
domination, Greece declared its independence and resumed its rightful 
place in the world as a beacon of democracy.
  The people of Greece and the United States share a common bond in 
their commitment to democracy. Our Founding Fathers looked to the 
teachings of Greek philosophy in their struggle for freedom and 
democracy. And the American experience in turn inspired the Greek 
people who fought so hard for independence 176 years ago.
  This bond between our two peoples stretches beyond the philosophy of 
democracy. The relationship between the United States and Greece has 
grown stronger and stronger through the years, and Greece remains today 
one of our most important allies.
  And the contribution Greece makes to life in America is even stronger 
than the ties between our two countries. Greek-Americans are a vital 
part of our cultural heritage. My district in New York would not be 
what it is today without the valuable contributions made by the Greek-
American community.
  I am proud to stand today in commemoration of Greek independence and 
in recognition of the contribution Greece and Greek-Americans have made 
to our country.
  Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise as a member of the congressional 
caucus on Hellenic issues to again recognize Greek Independence Day. 
This is a day to honor the sacrifices made by the Greek people over 
hundreds of years in their struggle against the oppressive rule of the 
Ottoman Empire.
  This day also reminds us that Greece and the United States share much 
in common, including the 1.1 million American citizens who are of Greek 
ancestry. I am pleased to join New Jersey's Greek-American citizens in 
their celebration.
  Many artistic and intellectual traditions have been handed down to 
the people of the United States of America by the people of Greece. Our 
Nation is richer for these traditions, and we remain grateful to 
Greece.
  The ties that bind America to Greece are not only historical, but 
also modern. Americans have fought side by side with Greeks in two 
world wars as well as in the Persian Gulf war. Today, Greece is our 
invaluable ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I call upon 
President Clinton and the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to 
make Greece--and the protection of Greeks in Cyprus and Turkey--a 
primary focus of United States foreign policy.
  Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would ask all Members of the House to join 
with me in honoring the historical ties between the United States and 
Greece and in continuing to foster the close relationship between our 
two countries that has proven so successful.
  Mr. LaFALCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate Greek 
Independence Day--a national day of celebration of Greek and American 
democracy. March 25 marks the 176th anniversary of the beginning of the 
revolution that freed the Greek people from the Ottoman Empire.
  An historic bond exists between Greece and America, forged by our 
shared democratic heritage. America is truly indebted to the Ancient 
Greeks for giving the world the first example of democracy. As this 
neoclassically designed building provides a protected place for our own 
democratic government to flourish, the philosophical and democratic 
influences of the Ancient Greeks provides the inspiration. It is 
therefore fitting that Members of this Chamber join in paying tribute 
to the long struggle for freedom that Greece endured.
  On March 25, 1821, when Germanos, the archbishop of Patros, 
proclaimed Greek independence, another link between Greece and the 
United States was forged. The American Revolution served as a model for 
the Greek struggle for freedom, and the Declaration of Independence, 
translated into Greek, served as the declaration of the end of the 
Greek struggle in 1830.
  The interconnection between Greek and American democracies lies not 
only in the philosophical underpinnings of our government, but in many 
areas of American life. The English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once 
said, ``We are all Greeks! Our laws, our literature, our religion, our 
art, have their roots in Greece.'' The tremendous influence that Greece 
has had on American life continues today through the activities of the 
dynamic Greek community in America. In every field--politics, 
entertainment, business, and education--Greek-Americans continue to 
make a valuable contribution to American life.
  I am honored to pay tribute to the Greek community on the anniversary 
of their independence day.
  Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island. Mr. Speaker, today is a great day in 
Greece's history for we are once again celebrating the independence of 
Greece, one of our Nation's closest allies. I want to commend the 
gentleman from Florida, for assembling this special order and for 
organizing the congressional caucus on Hellenic issues. I am pleased to 
be part of an organized and concerted effort to speak out on those 
issues which are important to Greece, Cyprus, and our constituents of 
Hellenic descent.
  It is time to celebrate the beginning of Greece's struggle for 
independence from the oppression of the Ottoman Empire. The people of 
Greece began their struggle for freedom on March 25, 1821. The 
colonists of America offered an example to Greece in the struggle 
against oppression, and, also, Athenian democracy was an inspiration to 
our revolutionary heroes.
  Today, we honor the ties between these two countries. Each day that 
we meet is a celebration of the debt America owes to Greece for 
founding the idea of democracy. We pay homage to this every day when we 
meet and debate and vote and freely share ideas.
  Furthermore, there is much to be attributed to the hard work of the 
sons and daughters of Greece who have come to the United States have 
made a tremendous impact on their communities.
  In my State of Rhode Island, there are incredibly strong and 
productive Greek communities. Since the turn of the century, Greek 
immigrants have settled in Providence, Pawtucket, and Newport, RI. 
There they built businesses, neighborhoods, churches, schools, and 
raised families. Rhode Island is richer because of all they have given.
  Today, we celebrate what Ancient Greece gave to the founding of our 
Nation, the success of the Greek Independence movement, and what Greek-
Americans have devoted to the development of the United States. I thank 
my colleagues for all of their hard work in making this special order 
possible and look forward to further work with the Hellenic caucus.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to rise to speak on 
this occasion which marks a day of historical significance for 
Americans and all who revere the blessings which a democratic way of 
life have afforded us. I thank the gentleman from Florida [Mr. 
Bilirakis] for organizing this special order, and I wish to let him 
know how much we appreciate his efforts in the House to keep Hellenic 
issues before us.
  On March 25th, Greece will celebrate the 176th anniversary of its 
declaration of independence from foreign domination. We revere and 
honor the contribution that Greek civilization has made to our 
democratic traditions.
  The cause of Greek independence and the adherence of the Greek nation 
to the path of democracy and true respect for the will of the people to 
determine their political course has always been dear to the hearts of 
democrats (with a small d) everywhere. Modern Greece rekindled the 
flame of democracy that first burned in the hearts of the citizens of 
ancient

[[Page H1088]]

Athens when it threw off the tyrannical yoke of the Ottoman overlords 
in 1821, an act that inspired all the peoples of Europe and this 
hemisphere.
  Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again rise in support of our 
annual special order in recognition of Greek Independence Day.
  Today, as we pay tribute to the movement for Greek independence that 
began 176 years ago, I would like to espouse the importance of this 
island nation to the lives of all Americans. Greece has been called the 
birthplace of democracy, having contributed much to the structure of 
our society and to the establishment of this very institution. While 
today we may take it for granted, the concept of majority rule with 
full respect for the rights of the minority was first developed in 
ancient Greece. This notion is deeply embedded in our own Declaration 
of Independence and Constitution. Today, as we struggle with problems 
and crises that were unimaginable two thousand years ago, we are guided 
by the philosophies of ancient Greece.
  Of course, the influence of Greece continues to this day. Here in the 
United States and throughout the world, Greek-Americans continue to 
make significant contributions to all aspects of our culture.
  So, in recognition of all of the achievements and contributions the 
Greek people have made to this country and toward the betterment of the 
human race, I salute Greece in their celebration of independence and 
freedom.
  In particular, we in America are gratified by Greece's role as a 
close American ally, and by the contribution that the Greek-American 
community makes to this country--and we only have to look around this 
chamber to see our members of Greek heritage with whom I know we are 
all proud to serve. We also appreciate the role that Greece plays as a 
stable anchor in the heart of the turbulent Balkans as anarchy wracks 
its neighbor to the north, Albania.
   Mr. Speaker, we look to Greece to continue to play the strong and 
responsible role it has played in assuring that the Aegean and eastern 
Mediterranean remain a region of peace and stability. I trust that our 
government will also continue to support a free, prosperous, and strong 
Greece. I urge all our members to join in wishing the people and 
government of Greece our best wishes and heartfelt hopes for a bright 
future.
  Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to join with my colleagues to 
celebrate the 176th anniversary of Greek Independence Day, a day in 
which the United States and Greece share our democratic ideals. Our 
mutual respect for freedom and liberty dates back to the late 18th 
century when our Founding Fathers looked to ancient Greece for 
direction in writing our own Constitution. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas 
Jefferson persuaded a noted Greek scholar, John Paradise, to come to 
the United States for consultation on the political philosophy of 
democracy. As a result of this earlier friendship, the Greeks adopted 
the American Declaration of Independence as their own, sealing a bond 
which has endured between our two nations ever since.
  For Greek-Americans and those who practice the Greek Orthodox faith, 
March 25 marks the date when in 1821, the Greek people rose against 
four centuries of Ottoman rule. Under the leadership of Alexander 
Ypsilanti, the Greek people fought valiantly in pursuit of freedom and 
self-rule for eight years. Finally, in 1827, the Allied powers lent 
support to the Greek effort. In 1829, not only did the united forces 
defeat the Turks, but the Greek people also gained recognition of their 
independence by the very power that had oppressed them since the 
Fifteenth Century.
  The Greek people continued their struggle against the threat of 
undemocratic regimes into the 20th century. At the height of World War 
II, when it appeared that Nazi forces would soon overrun Europe, the 
Greek people fought courageously on behalf of the rest of the world--at 
a cost of a half a million lives. The Greek people dealt a severe blow 
to the ability of the Axis forces to control the Mediterranean and 
sealed off the Black Sea which helped to turn the tide of World War II.
  Today, Greece is still threatened by outside forces and knows too 
well that freedom and independence come at a price--vigilance. While 
March 25 marks Greece's accomplishment as an independent nation, it 
also symbolizes the Greek people's continued defense of democracy, an 
idea given birth by the great philosophers in Athens more than 2,500 
years ago. Greece's presence as a free and lasting democracy in an 
often unstable region of former totalitarian states is one reason why 
some of the infant democracies of the Balkans may yet survive and 
flourish. In fact, just this week, the Greek government sent 
humanitarian aid to her strife torn neighbor, Albania. Greece remains a 
shining example of democracy in the Balkans.
  Once again, I am grateful for the opportunity to join my colleagues 
and my constituents in observing this very important celebration. Each 
March, I remember where America's own democratic principles were 
derived, and I honor the invaluable contributions Greek-Americans have 
brought to this country. The more than 700,000 Greeks who have come 
here, have benefitted us with a stronger, civilized and more cultured 
heritage. Mr. Speaker, I salute Greece and Greek-Americans for their 
outstanding achievements and their commitment to the ideals of freedom.
  Mr. DOYLE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Greek Independence 
Day.
  Throughout the 20th century, Greece has stood strong, first in the 
face of imperialism during World War I, then against the Fascist 
incursion of the Axis Powers during World War II, and finally in facing 
down the Communist threat during the cold war.
  The shared victory of Western democracies in defeating communism 
would not have been possible without the dedicated participation of 
Greece. Also, as Americans, we must continue to recognize the pivotal 
role played by Greece in meeting our goal of maintaining and enhancing 
the economic and political stability of Europe and the Mediterranean.
  Greece continues to stand firm as a bulwark of stability in an 
otherwise volatile region. Just today, Prime Minister Costos Simitis 
has called for a summit of Balkan leaders to deal with the crisis in 
Albania. It is this type of action--working for regional stability when 
it is most needed--that clearly demonstrates the important role the 
people and Government of Greece continue to play in the modern world.
  Again, I congratulate the people of Greece on their ongoing positive 
contribution to peace and democracy throughout the world, and wish them 
all the best on their independence day.
  Mr. BONIOR. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the Greek community to 
celebrate the 176th anniversary of Greek independence.
  On March 25, 1821, the Archbishop of Patras blessed the Greek flag at 
the Aghia Lavra Monastery near Kalavrita, marking the beginning of the 
Greek war of independence in which nearly 400 years of Ottoman rule 
were turned aside.
  Ancient Greece was the birthplace of democratic values. It brought 
forth the notion that the ultimate power to govern belongs in the hands 
of the people. It inspired a system of checks and balances to ensure 
that one branch of government does not dominate any other branch.
  These ideals inspired our Founding Fathers as they wrote the 
Constitution. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, ``to the ancient Greeks 
* * * we are all indebted for the light which led ourselves out of 
Gothic darkness.''
  Today, the United States is enriched not only by Greek principles but 
also by its sons and daughters. Greek-Americans have made major 
contributions to American society, including our arts, sports, 
medicine, religion, and politics.
  My home State of Michigan has been enhanced by the Greek community. 
In Macomb and St. Clair Counties, we are served by St. John's Greek 
Orthodox Church and Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. These 
institutions provide a multitude of community services and add to the 
rich diversity of the area.
  Mr. Speaker, I join the people of Greece and those of Greek ancestry 
around the world celebrating Greek Independence Day. I salute all of 
them for the tremendous contributions to freedom and human dignity 
which they have made.
  Mr. COYNE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join in this special order 
commemorating Greek Independence Day.
  In 1821, 176 years ago, the Greek people undertook a prolonged, 
uncertain, and painful struggle to win their independence. The cause of 
Greek independence required nearly 10 years of courage, persistence, 
and sacrifice. The price of freedom was very heavy. In the end, 
however, the Greek people were successful in winning their freedom and 
establishing an independent nation.
  Congress recognizes Greek Independence Day because we believe that it 
is important to commemorate the struggle of the Greek people to secure 
the right of democratic self-government. This triumph in itself is 
significant as a testament to the importance of freedom, but given the 
special place that Greece holds in world history as the birthplace of 
democracy, the story of the 19th-century Greek struggle for 
independence takes on added poignancy. Congress also recognizes Greek 
Independence Day because the concepts of personal liberty and self-
government that were developed in ancient Greece were subsequently 
adopted by 17th- and 18th-century philosophers and formed the basis for 
the political beliefs that fueled the French and American Revolutions.
  Greece and the United States have much in common. Greece and the 
United States can each legitimately claim to be the cradle of 
democracy. Each country's legacy inspired patriots of the other country 
in their struggle for independence. And each country has had an 
important influence on Western culture and modern intellectual thought. 
Moreover, both

[[Page H1089]]

the Greek and the American people share many common qualities--
qualities like energy, creativity, entrepreneurship, and courage. It 
should, then, come as no surprise that Greek Independence Day is being 
observed today in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am pleased to 
join my colleagues and our country's Greek-American citizens in 
celebrating Greek Independence Day.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my congratulations 
and support to the nation of Greece and Greek descendants everywhere in 
the celebration of Greek Independence Day. As a nation that has played 
and continues to play a dramatic and important historical role, Greece 
deserves our every respect and admiration on their day of independence.
  Ancient Greece served as a model for many ideas that have transformed 
the world for the better. Two of those ideas, democracy and the Olympic 
games, serve to bring people together in the spirit of friendly debate 
and competition, and bring out the best in everyone involved.
  When our Founding Fathers looked to the lessons of the ancients and 
their system of government in order to build a government that could 
both respond to the people's concerns and stand the test of time, they 
used the Greek system of government as their primary inspiration. When 
Thomas Jefferson wrote ``I consider the people who constitute a society 
or nation as the source of all authority in that nation,'' he was 
building on the example that the ancient Greeks set over 2,000 years 
ago.
  This body's bipartisan retreat last weekend in Hershey, PA, was 
certainly an example of where the Greeks inspired us to work together. 
The Olympics have always been an opportunity for athletes to put aside 
their differences and compete honestly and in the spirit of fair play. 
Our work together in Hershey was an effort to bring that way of 
thinking back to this body, and I'd like to think that the spirit of 
the Greeks watched over us at that retreat and guided our actions to 
produce better and more civilized debate about the issues that we are 
working on.
  I represent a large number of Greek descendants, and the Greek 
community is a very active one in my hometown of Portland, OR. Their 
contribution to our culture and our community is an overwhelmingly 
positive one, and it is one I enjoy taking part in every year. Today, I 
am happy to honor not only the members of the Greek community in my 
district, but around the State of Oregon and the nation, by celebrating 
their nation's independence day.
  Mr. BLAGOJEVICH. Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the 200,000 Greek 
Americans of Chicagoland, I am proud to pay tribute to the 176th 
anniversary of Greek Independence Day. Theirs is a rich heritage to be 
celebrated by all Americans and those who enjoy the freedoms of 
democracy across the world.
  Greek-Americans have played a vital role in shaping the progress of 
the city of Chicago. Their leadership in areas including commerce, 
civics, the arts, and education has extended far beyond the benefits of 
their historic legacy of democracy. They are good neighbors and 
citizens who share a culture for which Chicagoans hold the deepest 
affection. Recently undergoing a wonderful restoration to host America 
at the Democratic National Convention, our city's Greek Town community 
has come to be nationally renowned for its authenticity and devotion to 
ethnic tradition.
  And while I am proud to be a part of a Nation that recognizes the 
contributions of Greek-Americans and the fundamental significance of 
this historic day, I am quick to remember that this is a spirit to 
which we must be true each and every day. A spirit that must never be 
forgotten or taken for granted for a single moment. Ironically, Greece 
is one nation that knows this only too well.
  For over 20 long years, the world has shared the outrage felt by the 
residents of Cyprus whose land has been illegally occupied by Turkish 
forces, and shared the pain of the families of the 1,619 Greek Cypriots 
who are still missing from the invasion. In the midst of our 
celebration of the freedoms we enjoy as a result of Greece's 
contributions to society, we must not overlook this issue.
  In honor of all those who have struggled in the cause for democracy, 
I ask that we renew our commitment to reaching a fair resolution to the 
conflict in Cyprus.
  Until then, I wish all of the Greek-Americans of Chicago and across 
the Nation a very happy Greek Independence Day. On this and every day, 
their invaluable contributions to our society will not be forgotten.
  Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join in recognition of the 
176th anniversary of the independence of Greece.
  Greek Independence Day, which is celebrated in a variety of ways 
nationwide, commemorates the birth of modern Greece. Whether the 
festivities take the form of parades, dances, songs, or feasts, the 
common thread of freedom runs through all activities. The battle for 
liberty fought by the Greeks ended with the triumph of democracy. This 
struggle has significant relevance for the United States. Sacrificing 
for the principle of democracy is a fundamental value Greece and the 
United States share.
  The commemoration of Greek Independence Day also represents the 
special relationship between Greece and the United States. The bond 
reaches back to the early 19th century when Americans went to aid 
Greece in their war of independence. Now, approaching the 21st century, 
we're embarking upon a reinvigorated alliance. Sharing in the NATO 
partnership and working toward a sustained peace in the Balkans are two 
prominent examples of this relationship.
  Another praiseworthy element exemplified by Greek Independence Day is 
community involvement. In the United States, Greek-Americans make 
invaluable contributions to the cultural, educational, and social 
fabric of American society. As a lifelong New Yorker, I know firsthand 
about the robust civic spirit the Greek-American community embodies. 
The hard work demonstrated by the many volunteers to put the Greek 
Independence Day celebrations together represents this strong sense of 
community. All members of the Greek community should be very proud of 
the multiplicity of events celebrating Greek Independence Day.
  I want to thank my colleague from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis, for 
organizing this special order to celebrate Greek Independence Day. We 
should take this moment to salute the heroic feats of Greeks in their 
struggle for independence, recognize the strong bonds that exist 
between the United States and Greece, and applaud the contribution 
Greek-Americans make to communities across the country.
  Mr. ROTHMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join with my colleagues in 
paying tribute to Greek Independence Day.
  Some 61 years ago President Franklin Delano Roosevelt remarked that, 
``In the truest sense freedom cannot be bestowed, it must be 
achieved.'' It is this very achievement, the embrace of liberty by the 
Greek nation, that we celebrate here today. And in a sense, today we 
celebrate not only the 176th year of Greek independence, but we honor 
the ideals upon which independence was secured in 1821. Values like 
honor, dedication, and perseverance were the call-words in the 
establishment of an independent Greek state.
  For the thousands of Greek-Americans living in my congressional 
district, this day is representative of the determination of the Greek 
people to secure freedom against all odds. After being under Ottoman 
rule for four centuries, the Greek people realized their national 
aspirations by securing their independence in 1821. It was that 
realization that began a new era for Greece and has resulted in a warm 
relationship with the United States of America.
  Today, Greece is a prosperous country and a fully engaged member of 
NATO and the European Union. And today, in all walks of life, Greek-
Americans continue to make remarkable contributions to our country in 
the arts, humanities, and the areas of sport and commerce.
  Mr. Speaker, as a strong supporter of issues dear to the Greek-
American community, I am proud to recognize Greek Independence Day and 
I wish to extend on this special day my congratulations to all Greek-
Americans and all the citizens of Greece.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to join my colleagues 
today in remembering the 176th anniversary Greek Independence Day. I 
especially wish to thank my friend and fellow Floridian, Congressman 
Mike Bilirakis, and my other good friend, Congresswoman Carolyn 
Maloney, for calling the special order to raise the public's awareness 
of the history of Greece and the important role Greece has played in 
the United States and the world.
  When we celebrate Greek Independence Day we need to note that March 
25 is not the day that all of Greece gained its independence. March 25 
was the day that Athens and a small portion of Greece gained 
independence and then areas populated by Greeks were liberated one by 
one until we have the Greece of today.
  It has often been said Greece's great gift to the United States and 
to the world is the governmental system of democracy. Well that is 
indeed a great gift which has brought much happiness to the world. But, 
it was the Greek courage, spirit and desire for liberty which helped 
the world to understand that democracy is the best way for people to 
join together in common association.
  The Greek people, through their history, have shown an indomitable 
will to fight for their freedom. The Greek victories are well known 
throughout history. There was the Greek war for independence that freed 
part of Greece from the Ottoman Empire and later during World War II 
the Nazi invaders. But Greeks have suffered less known tragedies that 
would have broken the spirit or destroyed a lesser people.
  Today Greek minorities in Turkey and other places in Eastern Europe 
are suffering political

[[Page H1090]]

and religious persecution. That is why this special order is so 
important. In addition to reminding the American people of their roots 
to the cradle of democracy in Greece, we need to continue raising the 
public's awareness of the constant threat Greeks live under in Eastern 
Europe.
  The Greek Cypriots in occupied northern Cyprus live under intolerable 
inhuman conditions since their land was occupied by a military force. 
Tensions continue to rise around Cyprus and I urge the administration 
to apply the same degree of commitment to finding a peaceful solution 
to the Cyprus crisis that it applied to the Bosnian crisis.
  I introduced legislation last Congress to help relieve the suffering 
of the enclaved Greek Cypriots and am considering similar legislation 
in this Congress. We must end the senseless persecution of these brave 
people. I just hope that the administration does not allow this 
situation to continue to fester hoping it will go away.
  Mr. Speaker, the link between the United States and Greece is a 
strong bond and I believe the United States should thank the Greek 
people for not just being a good ally to America but for their gifts of 
our heritage of democracy and individual liberty. I am happy to join my 
colleagues in celebrating this joyous anniversary.
  Again, I thank my friends Congressman Bilirakis and Congresswoman 
Maloney for calling this special order and for their leadership on 
Hellenic issues.
  Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I first of all want to thank 
the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Bilirakis] for organizing this special 
order to celebrate Greek Independence Day.
  I am very fortunate and very pleased and privileged to represent 
Astoria, NY--one of the largest and most vibrant communities of Greek 
and Cypriot Americans in this country.
  It is truly one of my greatest pleasures as a Member of Congress to 
be able to participate in the life of this community, and the wonderful 
and vital Greek-American friends that I have come to know are one of 
its greatest rewards.
  I have also had the pleasure of establishing the Congressional Caucus 
on Hellenic Issues with the gentleman from Florida. This caucus allows 
Members of the House to join together to find ways to work toward 
better United States-Greek and Cypriot relations.
  March 25, 1997, will mark the 176th anniversary of the day when 
Greece declared her independence, beginning an 8-year struggle for 
freedom.
  From the fall of Constantinople in 1453, until the Declaration of 
Independence in 1821, almost 400 years, Greece remained under the heel 
of the Ottoman Empire. During that time, the people were deprived of 
all civil rights. Schools and churches.
  One hundred seventy-six years ago, the Greek people were able to 
resume their rightful place as an ideal of democracy for the rest of 
the Western world.
  The ancient Greek paradigm of democracy and individual liberties 
inspired our country to seek its own independence, and in that sense, 
as the American philosopher Will Durant observed, ``Greece is the 
bright morning star of that Western civilization which is our 
nourishment and life.''
  Yet half a century later, the American Revolution became one of the 
ideals of the Greeks as they fought for their own independence. Since 
their independence, Greece has become one of the most trusted partners 
allied with the United States in every major international conflict in 
this century.
  In light of this special and longstanding relationship, some recent 
actions taken by the administration are particularly troubling. The 
proposed sale of Seahawk naval helicopters sends the wrong signal to 
Turkey, particularly given the tense situation on Cyprus.
  The Hellenic Caucus responded by sending a letter condemning this 
sale to President Clinton that was signed by over 80 Members of 
Congress. I believe that it is time for the administration to reach the 
same conclusion and end unfortunate weapons sales until certain actions 
are halted. We need a rational policy that does not encourage 
aggressive actions and attitudes. There can be no middle or neutral 
position between those who uphold the rules of law and those who 
violate it.
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud to join in celebrating Greek independence and 
the indomitable, life-giving spirit of its people.

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