Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Maloney & Bilirakis Join with Hellenic-American Groups to Celebrate Bicentennial of Greek Independence, Call on UK to Return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece

Mar 25, 2021
Press Release

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, joined today with the Hellenic-American community to celebrate the bicentennial of Greece’s independence and to call on the United Kingdom to return the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home in the Acropolis.

 

Representatives Maloney and Bilirakis introduced H.Res. 254 on March 18, 2021, calling for the UK to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

 

“Our art and architecture, our rhetoric and our philosophy all owe much to the influence of Grecian culture. So, when there is already a long-standing debt of such great value - one we can never fully repay – it seems that the very least that we could do is to return to the Greek people something of great value that is rightfully theirs to begin with: the great collection of Classical Greek sculptures known as the Parthenon Marbles. They were originally sculpted by Greek citizens and meant to be displayed in the Parthenon and other buildings of the Acropolis. The Parthenon is one of the greatest cultural monuments in the history of the world – and the world and all Greeks deserve the chance to see it as it once stood – complete with the Marbles. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, we cannot forget that its fight to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles and erase this reminder of the imperialist past continues to this day,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.

 

“It is with great pride that I recognize the 200th Anniversary of Greek Independence and celebrate Greek and American democracy.  Like the American revolutionaries who fought for independence and established this great republic we call the 'Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave', Greek freedom fighters began an arduous struggle to win independence for Greece and its people 200 years ago.  The lessons the Greeks taught us then continue to provide strength to victims of persecution throughout the world today.  By honoring the Greek struggle for independence, we reaffirm the values and ideas that make our nation great.   Socrates, Plato, Pericles, and many other great minds throughout history warned that we maintain democracy only at a great cost. Our Greek brothers earned their liberty with blood as did our American forefathers.  The freedom we enjoy today is due to the sacrifices made by men and women in the past.  We celebrate Greek independence to reaffirm the common democratic heritage we share.  As Americans, we must continue to pursue this spirit of freedom and liberty that characterizes both great nations. Additionally, as we commemorate the victory of our ancestors in their quest for freedom, we remain cognizant of the ongoing struggle to return the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful homeland.  To not house these treasures in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.

 

“Greece has been ready for a long time to welcome home Her most valuable patrimony, the Parthenon Marbles. The Greek American community is grateful to Representatives Maloney and Bilirakis for bringing this Resolution to the floor, to assist in the efforts for their repatriation. We hope that the Parthenon Marbles will soon return to their rightful place in the world,” said His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

 

““In 1821, after nearly 400 years of Ottoman oppression, the Greeks bound together under a flag bearing the cross to fight for freedom and justice in the land which gave the world democracy. Like the revolution which took place in America 45 years earlier, Greece would embark on a journey forever linking our two countries in their struggle for freedom and independence. Throughout history, Greece and the United States have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to face the challenges of an ever-changing world. The strong alliance continues into the 21st century. We appreciate Congressional Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Gus Bilirakis for introducing a resolution that commemorates Greece’s Bicentennial. We support it. And we call for its swift passage,” George G. Horiates, Esq., Supreme President, American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA)

 

“Today is a proud day for Hellenism and Greeks as it marks the 200th year anniversary of our Independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire occupied Greece for almost 400 years.  In that time, the Greek language, religion and traditions were taught in secret in monasteries and churches. 200 years ago, our ancestors persisted, fought, and gained back their freedom, and we now must demand and persist that the UK return the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home, for Greece, for Greeks and the Greek generations to come,” said Stacy Bliagos, Executive Director, HANAC Inc.

 

“The U.S. and Greece – 200 years after the Greek War of Independence – continue to be linked in their common purpose of protecting democracy which is under assault both domestically and internationally. The threats to democracy – whether viewed through the lens of what transpired at the Capitol on January 6, or as observed in the not-so-subtle emergence of autocratic political lenders in many foreign capitals, including in countries that have been erstwhile allies of both Greece and the U.S., signals the need to be ever vigilant and to take nothing for granted,” Nicholas E. Chimicles, Esq., Board Member, American Hellenic Institute (AHI).

 

“The bicentennial of the 1821 Revolution and War of Independence is the perfect opportunity for Greece to both celebrate and honor its history, as well as to look forward toward its potential for the future. As a leading women’s organization, we would be remiss if we did not recognize and commend the contributions of women to the Greek war effort, including the Mother of the Greek Revolution—Laskarina Bouboulina. The revolution ended in 1829 establishing an independent Greek state. It is also a time to renew pride in our Hellenic heritage and boast how equally proud we are of the shared ideals and values between America and Greece for two centuries. In this regard, we thank Congresswoman Maloney and the Hellenic Caucus for introducing a resolution to commemorate Greece’s Bicentennial, and we look forward to support its passage,” said Vasilia “Celia” Kachmarski, Grand President, Daughters of Penelope

 

“Like her initiation of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, this Greek Independence Day event of Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney pulls together all Hellenes and focuses us all on the best of humankind.  She is for the Greek-American community and for the Congress our “Bouboulina” — the great naval commander hero of the Greek War of Independence,” said Andy Manatos, President, National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes

 

“200 years after the courageous Greeks declared ‘Freedom or Death’ and launched the first national liberation movement in Europe, we should recall that the Greeks did not take up the call to ‘freedom’ alone. 200 years later, it is a thrill to see Congressman Bilirakis and Congresswoman Maloney keep that alliance between Hellene and Philhellene as strong as ever. During this Bicentennial, many will gaze on the Parthenon as a symbol of the glory of Greece.  It is inconceivable that the looting of the Parthenon is something that the U.K. not only refuses to make right, but continues to profit from. So, thank you Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Bilirakis for your resolution calling on the U.K. to return the Parthenon Marbles,” said Taso Pardalis, National Vice Chairman, Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC).

 

You can watch the event below.

 

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