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Greek Independence Day Celebrated at State Capitol

© PHOTOS: GOA/Dimitrios Panagos

ALBANY, N.Y. –

NYS Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, Senator Andrew Gounardes, and Senator James Skoufis along with NYS Assemblymen John Lemondes and Michael Tannousis, honored Greek Independence at the State Capitol in Albany on Tuesday, March 26, welcoming His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, who offered invocations at the legislative sessions of both the New York State Assembly and the Senate. 

The legislators also passed a Resolution J2055 commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the illegal invasion and ongoing occupation of Cyprus as well as a Resolution J2029 proclaiming March as Greek History Month in New York State.

During his visit, His Eminence engaged in fruitful discussions with NY Governor Kathy Hochul, highlighting the significant contributions of the Greek American community to the State of New York and he met separately with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins further emphasizing the community’s role and importance.

He was accompanied by AHEPA Supreme President Savas Tsivicos, and President of PSEKA and the Pancyprian Association of America Philip Christopher who is also leading the 2024 NYC Greek Parade Committee.

“As the son of Greek immigrants, I am especially proud to represent the community known for the largest concentration of the Greek diaspora,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “It is also a time to remember that our brothers and sisters in Cyprus are yet to have the freedom they deserve after 50 years of illegal occupation.”

“As a fourth-generation Greek-American, I’m immensely proud to celebrate the 203rd anniversary of Greece’s independence in the halls of the New York State Capitol,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “This day is an opportunity to honor generations past in their struggle for freedom, to celebrate the vibrant Greek community here in New York that weathered hardship in search of a better life, and to open our hearts to all those whose yearning for freedom and independence mirror our own.”

“I am deeply proud of my Greek heritage and of the thousands of my fellow Greek-Americans who live and work in New York. Today allows us the opportunity to reflect on the many contributions of the Greek diaspora and to celebrate those individuals within our own districts who enrich their communities every day,” said State Senator James Skoufis.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to recognize our Greek American contributions to our communities and Nation as well to democratic governments across the world,” said Assemblyman John Lemondes.

“It was my pleasure to welcome back His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to Albany today alongside many Greek and Cypriot friends for our Greek Heritage Celebration. 50 years ago, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus displaced thousands of Cypriots from their homes. Many of them fled to New York City. This week, we commemorated the 50th year dark anniversary of this injustice. We also celebrate people from the Cypriot and Greek communities that have established themselves within our community. Maria Pappas is a shining example of such an individual. She has been incredibly influential to the Cypriot community in New York. She has also broken barriers both in the investment industry and in being elected the first woman President of the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce,” said Assemblyman Michael Tannousis. 

Along with Maria Pappas, four Greek and Cypriot Americans were also honored by the State for their innovation and creativity: Physician Dr. Florentia Christodoulidou, AHEPA District 6 Lt Governor Michael Labatos, Rev. Presbyter Christopher Talleos, and HCCS Superintendent, Christina Tettonis.

Speaking at a celebratory luncheon hosted by the Greek and Cypriot American legislators, Archbishop Elpidophoros paid tribute to the heroes of 1821, emphasizing the shared responsibility to uphold democracy and advocate for justice. He also addressed the half-century anniversary since the illegal Turkish invasion of Cyprus, urging for lasting peace and expressing gratitude for the support extended to the people of Cyprus.

A highlight of the event was the dance performance by children from St. Sophia Church in Albany, NY dressed in Greek in traditional costumes.

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