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3/27/2019 Sen. Raptakis and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Hellenic Community host the celebration of 198th anniversary of Greek Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunciation at RI State House
Greek Consul General Efthymiou, Mohegan Gaming Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos and Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, President & Director Boston Museum of Science, join local Greek leaders, elected officials in celebration of Greek heritage

STATE HOUSE – State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and the Cranston Hellenic community hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Rhode Island State House yesterday, bringing together state leaders and members of the Hellenic community to recognize the 198th anniversary of Greece’s independence. This is the twenty-seventh consecutive celebration of the event. The event included the Consul General of the Hellenic Republic Stratos Efthymiou, keynote speakers Mohegan Gaming Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos and Dr. Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, President and Director of the Boston Museum of Science, who also met with Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) prior to the festivities.

Throughout the day, Greece’s national flag was flown in four different areas of the Rhode Island State House: the Governors State Room, the Senate chamber, the House of Representatives chamber and atop the State House building. Following the ceremonies in the Senate chamber, a program was held in the Governor’s State Room, with remarks offered by Consul General Efthymiou, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magazine, Attorney General Peter Neronha and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick). The mayors from several Rhode Island cities that are home to Greek Orthodox churches also participated, including Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza and Mayor of Cranston Allan Fung. Also speaking were President of Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England, Vasilis Kafkas and George Gialtourdis, President Pontian Society Panagia Soumela of Boston. Other dignitaries of Hellenic descent who attended were Charles Tsonos, East Providence School Committee Chairman, Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. and Joan Panichas Milas.

The state’s Congressional delegation sent representatives and Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee sent a written greeting. The letters of congratulations from all the members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation, including United States Senator Jack Reed, were read by Senator Leonidas Raptakis. Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church also brought greetings from Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of New England. This year's co-emcee was Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church parishioner Attorney Nicholas Lambros.

“This event is always a wonderful expression of our strong Hellenic community in Rhode Island and the strong connection between this state, known for its commitment to independence, and the nation which was the birthplace of democracy,” said Raptakis.  “I want to thank the Senate and House for hosting this event, passing resolutions during their sessions yesterday, and consistently supporting Hellenic issues over the years. I am grateful to all of the legislators and general officers who attended again this year, coming together in the Rhode Island State House to take part in this special celebration, including the many Hellenes who participated from Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Our community shares in the values of Greece."

As part of the main program in the Governor’s State Room, Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston delivered the invocation and Father Nicholas Lanzourakis, also from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, gave the benediction. The audience joined together to sing the national anthems of the United States and the Hellenic Republic.  Father Philip Zymaris of the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Newport gave the invocation in the House of Representatives, while Father Aaron Walker, St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, Newport, and retired Rev. Dr. George Economou also took part in the program.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Greek Language teachers Koula Rougas, Ioanna Andreopoulou, and Eleni Trikoulis facilitated the program this year. Children from all three Greek Orthodox parishes made individual presentations of poems and sang together the song "O Thourios."             

Both the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions commemorating the Feast of the Annunciation and the 198th Anniversary of Greece’s independence and highlighted the continuing bonds between both the United States and Greece. Most importantly, the resolution recognized the continuing support by the United States to the people of Greece, especially during the economic crisis that has plagued the country the last several years, and the expanding economic partnership and military cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean. A reception, sponsored by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, was held in Cranston following the program at the Statehouse.

The ceremony was recorded by Capitol Television and can be viewed here.

The resolution can be found here.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903