Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in support of this joint resolution marking the 188th anniversary of Greek independence. I would like to thank my good friend and our wonderful ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for her leadership in ensuring that the House marks this important date.
As the birthplace of democracy, Greece stands alone among nations in its influence over our modern American government. Our Founding Fathers fashioned our society based, in significant part, on the political experience and philosophy of the ancient Greeks.
We stand here in a room today surrounded by images of some of the greatest thinkers in world history, many of them Greek. We stand in a building held up by ancient Greek architectural designs and techniques. And we continue to legislate today under Greek ideals of democratic governance.
From the ancient world of Homer and Plato to the theories of Hippocrates and Pythagoras, we are indebted to the Greek nation for its scientific, philosophical and artistic contributions to the world.
Throughout the modern era, Greece has been one of the United States' strongest allies, supporting us in every major international conflict. Today, our two nations express their mutual commitment safeguarding democracy and freedom through partnership in NATO and through bilateral defense cooperation.
Situated at the crossroads of three continents, Greece holds a strategic position in the Mediterranean region. Over the past decade, Athens has pursued path-breaking diplomacy that has resulted in meaningful rapprochement with its neighbor, Turkey. Last year, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis made an official visit to Ankara, the first Greek Prime Minister to do so in nearly half a century.
As we commemorate today the 188th anniversary of Greek independence from Ottoman rule, we would be remiss if we failed to acknowledge the rich contributions of Greek immigrants and their descendants to the United States. We hope to continue the mutual benefit of cultural exchange by welcoming soon, Greece, into the Visa Waiver Program.
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the beautiful and noble country of Greece on its anniversary, and I join with Americans and democracy-lovers throughout the world in celebrating Greek heritage and our thriving Greek-American friendship.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, to start our discussion, I would like to yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce), the ranking member on our Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, what we are recognizing here: come tomorrow we have the 188th year anniversary of the independence of Greece. And we are celebrating Greek and American democracy. And that date tomorrow represents the day at which, after 400 years of oppressive rule, Greeks finally became free. Greeks were able, and it is amazing to think about it, to maintain their language, maintain their religion, to hold on to their culture, despite 20 generations of persecution during that period
And I think one of the reasons we are proud here in the United States about the role we played was because U.S. President James Monroe and our then-Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, pushed to send funds and supplies to aid Greece in that struggle. But more importantly, I think to all of us, freeborn men, both white and black, born in the North, traveled to Greece during that struggle. They played a role over 180 years ago in securing those freedoms. That was the power at the time of the concept
of Greek liberty, that it drove Americans in this early republic to travel to Greece in order to take part in that very struggle. And that struggle, frankly, began an alliance between the U.S. and Greece that has joined our two countries in NATO, that has seen our soldiers fight tyranny in World War II.
We are indebted to the Greeks for their vast influence on our own society. Two thousand five hundred years ago, the Greeks ushered in Western civilization, and they brought about at that time the scientific method. They gave us the philosophy of Aristotle and Aristotelian logic, the birth of democratic government, the first age of reason. They brought forward the poetry of Euripides, the three-dimensional painting that was not rediscovered as a technique until the end of the Dark Ages, until
into the Renaissance when again the enlightenment represented, really, the rediscovery of Greek philosophy, of these concepts of the autonomy of the individual, of logic and reason.
Our own founding fathers were deeply influenced by those Hellenic ideas. Thomas Jefferson, Adams and Madison, they not only wrote and read Greek; they could speak Greek--Tom Paine as well. They were well-versed in Greek philosophy.
In crafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Jefferson and Madison drew heavily on the Greek ideal that a government derives its power from the people. Thomas Jefferson's stirring words that all men are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights hark back to natural law theories that originated in Greek philosophy. Indeed, the very architecture of our buildings, the very [Page: H3782]
ideals that drove our founding fathers through all
of this Greek culture permeates throughout Washington, DC and our Nation. It is this legacy that we justly recognize today.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 4 minutes to my wonderful colleague from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis. It is no surprise he is the cochair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, and a fine job he does.
Mr. SPACE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Resolution 273, recognizing the 188th anniversary of Greek independence and celebrating Greek and American democracy.
This bill is personally significant to me because, like Mr. Bilirakis, I, too, am of Greek descent, being the grandson of immigrants who came here from the very small but beautiful island of Ikaria, Greece.
It is significant that we understand in recognizing and in advocating for this resolution that our founding fathers chose the ancient Greek models in the formation of our own Constitution and in formulating and defining the values of freedom, justice and equality. What is equally interesting is that, when Greece attained its independence, it turned to the Jeffersonian democracy that we have in formulating its constitution.
This resolution reaffirms the excellent relationship between the United States and Greece. In its passage, I look forward to continued joint cooperation between these two nations in their mutual quest for peace, justice and democratic principles. Peace, justice and democratic principles are not just words. They mean something.
In this case, it means a renewed interest and quest for peace, justice and the principles of democracy in Cyprus. It means ending the occupation that has lasted for over 35 years. It means this country working with Greece to effectuate that. It means preserving the sanctity and the integrity of the ecumenical patriarch, the spiritual father of nearly 300 million who are Christian Orthodox worldwide.
Ascribing to those principles is what we believe in, and it is what Greece believes in. I look forward to working with Greece in future years as we strive for that justice.
Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, 188 years ago, the Greeks brought forth another democracy, but their philosophy started hundreds of years ago. They did not just bring the world a relentless warrior who was willing to give everything to defend the sacred honor of the Greek Nation, but they brought the world a concept that was novel, because of no other country can it be said that they brought to the world a philosophy that it was the individual that is more important than government, itself, more
important than the State, because always before in all cultures the State was the supreme power over the individual. Yet the Greeks had the novel concept that the human being, the individual, is worth more than the State. Because of that seed, democracy was planted, and democracy now flourishes throughout the world with the basic premise that it is the individual who is all important.
So we honor them tomorrow because of their great heritage, because of their great influence on our democracy, but we also honor them because they gave to the world a concept of freedom and worth of the individual that had never before been known to any civilization.
Ms. TITUS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a proud member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus to offer my strong support for H. Res. 273, celebrating the 188th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. I am proud to follow other members of this caucus, and agree with their wonderful comments about this special occasion.
My grandfather, Arthur Costandinos Cathones, for whom I am named, came to America from Greece in 1911. He instilled in me a love of Greece and Greek culture. The Hellenic values he taught me have served me well as guiding principles throughout my career in public service, and he would be so proud to see me today on the floor of the U.S. House.
I have been blessed with this wonderful heritage throughout my life. I have [Page: H3783]
enjoyed visiting Greece a number of times to learn firsthand about the birthplace of democracy, and these trips have given me a deep understanding of the country's regions, its mythologies, its history, its food, its music, and especially its people.
The U.S. and Greece have always shared a special bond. When the new democracy was formed in Greece, they charged themselves with imitating and resembling American democracy, just like our forefathers shaped our democracy around the ideals of Aristotle and Socrates. Those are the very principles of government I teach in my political science classes at UNLV.
So, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to celebrating this holiday tomorrow with the leaders of the Hellenic community and with the President of the United States. I look forward to working to further strengthen the relationship between the United States and the wonderful Hellenic Republic of Greece.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to yield myself such time as I may consume.
I am proud to both sponsor and rise today in support of this resolution. This measure, as we have heard from each speaker, expresses our support for the nation of Greece as it celebrates the 188th anniversary of its independence, and it also notes the many very positive aspects of our relationship with that country.
There is truly a kinship between the people of Greece and the United States, one that was born from the shared ideals of democracy. Americans, indeed, owe a great deal to the political philosophy of democracy that was born in ancient Athens so long ago in 500 B.C. It was the Greek city-state of Athens that first created the word ``democracy'' by combining ``demos,'' meaning people, with ``kratos,'' meaning power, and so it became the first state in history to introduce and implement the concept
of democracy in its form of government.
As they framed our Constitution in the late 18th century, our founding fathers drew upon the principles and the forms of government that had been created in ancient Greece thousands of years earlier. Soon after that, 45 years after America's Declaration of Independence, Greek freedom fighters looked to the young United States for inspiration as they began their work for independence from Ottoman Turkey in 1821. In fact, at that time, one of those Greek freedom fighters praised George Washington
and the United States for being the land of liberty in his poem ``Hymn to Liberty.'' That poem then became a rallying cry in the Greek war for independence, and was later adopted as the national anthem for Greece.
Mr. WEXLER. I yield myself such time as I might consume.
Mr. Speaker, as a proud member of the Hellenic Caucus, I want to express strong support for this resolution recognizing the 188th anniversary of the independence of Greece and celebrating Greek and American democracy. I would also once again like to thank my very good friend from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) who has been a leading supporter of U.S.-Greek relations in Congress. Additionally, I want to express my gratitude to the co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus, Congresswoman Maloney
and Congressman Bilirakis, for their efforts in moving this resolution forward.
Having had the honor of meeting with the Foreign Minister of Greece 1 month ago, it is an honor to highlight one of America's most important allies, Greece, and the common commitments to democracy, human rights and laws that bind our two nations. This resolution is an opportunity to praise Greece for its efforts to bring peace and stability to the Balkans, as well as the support Athens has given the United States following 9/11 and our collective efforts on the war on terrorism.
It is not lost on any of us in Congress that Greece was quick to respond to requests by the United States during the war in Iraq and immediately granted unlimited access to its airspace and the base in Souda Bay. Many American ships that delivered troops, cargo, and supplies to Iraq were refueled in Greece.
Close cooperation with our NATO ally Greece continues on a daily basis, and it is essential that Congress and the administration recognize this extraordinary support and express our deepest gratitude to the Greek people and Greek government.
This occasion is not only important in terms of U.S.-Greece bilateral relations, but it is an historic occasion for millions of Americans. As a Member of Congress with a large Greek American community, I am especially pleased that we are passing this resolution today, which also highlights this community's extraordinary commitments to the shared prosperity of our Nation.
It is undeniable that the Greek American community, which includes some five million Americans with Greek ancestry, is the lynchpin in the unbreakable bond between the United States and Greece. As unofficial ambassadors between the U.S. and Greece, Greek Americans have for decades successfully shaped this long-standing friendship and built new bridges to forge closer relations between our nations.
While this resolution recognizes an important anniversary in the independence of Greece, it is also my hope that today's floor debate will be used as a catalyst to promote our ally, Greece's, participation in the Visa Waiver Program. Greece has fulfilled all of the criteria to be included in the Visa Waiver Program, and I urge the administration to act as quickly as possible, along with Athens, to finalize this process and open the door to further enhance the relationship between the people and
governments of the United States and Greece.
Mr. Speaker, once again, I congratulate the Greek people on the 188th anniversary of their independence and strongly support this resolution.