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Remarks of National Commander Dr. Limberakis at the Philadelphia City Hall Flag Raising Ceremony

The following remarks were offered at the Flag Raising Ceremony in Philadelphia, PA on April 5, 2024 by National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, MD. The ceremony was part of the Greek Independence Celebrations of the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley.

Your Eminence Metropolitan Apostolos of New Jersey, and reverend clergy
Mayor Cherelle Parker,
Grand Marshal Archon Philip Christopher,

President Georgia Chletcos 
Members of the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of Philadelphia & the Greater Delaware Valley,

Her Excellency Ekaterini Nassika, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the United States and members of the Diplomatic Corps 

Beloved Archons and Friends, 

I know I speak for all of us here when I say that it is an extraordinary honor for me to be here today. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the independence of Greece than with this flag-raising ceremony in the city that was the birthplace of freedom for another land, the United States of America. On behalf of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, I commend the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of Philadelphia & the Greater Delaware Valley for its tireless work in maintaining the beautiful traditions of these Independence Day commemorations, and for helping to keep the light of freedom lit in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Your Eminence, on this momentous day, we remember how 203 years ago, on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, and some 45 years following our own Declaration of Independence in America, just a few blocks away, another bishop, Metropolitan Germanos of Patras, had the courage to bless the Hellenic flag at his Monastery of Agia Lavra, thereby beginning the Greeks’ struggle to restore freedom and democracy in the lands where they had been born…

And that’s just the beginning. We are here today to celebrate not just that world-changing moment. We are here to celebrate the enduring spirit of the Greek people, and the love for freedom that has defined them throughout history. It was the pioneering and world-historical example of the ancient Greek city-states over 2,000 years ago that inspired the American Founders to pursue their vision of establishing and maintaining a republic, a free society that guaranteed equality of rights for all people…and we have all constantly striven to be ever more faithful to that ideal. 

Today, the Greek Omogeneia continues to lead by example. Madame Mayor, I know you can attest to the unshakeable commitment of the Hellenic community here in Philadelphia to the wider community, and its selfless dedication to the wellbeing of the people of this great city and the entire metropolitan area. In this commitment, the Greek community is following the example of the courageous heroes we commemorate today, who risked everything in order to remain true to the principles that have distinguished us as a people throughout history. 

That example extends throughout American history. 203 years ago, Americans of Greek origin returned to Greece at immense risk in order to join the struggle for Greek independence. Greek Americans also fought to preserve the American Union during the Civil War, and gave their lives for freedom and democracy during two world wars and numerous other conflicts. Greek Americans today likewise struggle and sacrifice for the same things that all Americans want: to be able to exercise our cherished religious convictions in freedom and in peace, and to use the gifts that Almighty God has given us to shine His light into the world and strive to secure a better future for our children and our children’s children. 

That was the blessed hope that aminated Metropolitan Germanos when he first raised this flag 203 years ago. This flag-raising ceremony not only honors the Greek flag, but recalls the heroism and sacrifices of our forefathers and foremothers who struggled so hard to establish the independence of the Hellenic nation. I’m delighted to see the Evzones here, as they represent the best of the best, and are a visible and vivid connection to the Greek war of independence, in which their comrades of two centuries ago fought so valiantly. Remember that the Foustanella they wear, features 400 pleats to represent the liberation of Greece from four centuries of Ottoman occupation. And they stand today determined never to have to add any more pleats. 

As we raise the great flag of Greek independence, let us remember that the struggle for democracy and freedom is not yet completed. Greece has been independent for 203 years. Yet through all those years and still today, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the holy center of our faith as Greek Orthodox Christians, continues to suffer. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the longest-serving and one of the most consequential Ecumenical Patriarchs in the entire history of the Church, continues to be denied the right to exercise his sacred mission with the freedom that ought to be accorded to him, as the sacred hierarch of the Mother Church of Orthodox Christians worldwide. 

And so there is a great deal more work to do for freedom. The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are proud and honored to stand with the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley as we continue this work. The Federation deserves the gratitude of Greek Americans everywhere for your tireless efforts to reinforce the unity of Hellenic-American associations and individuals in the Greek community. And thank you all for being here to help the Greek community celebrate on this beautiful day. Zito i Ellas! Ζήτω η Ελλάδα! 

God Bless America!

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