SOCIETY

US Mission to Greece commemorates Independence Day with donations and virtual engagements

us-mission-to-greece-commemorates-independence-day-with-donations-and-virtual-engagements

Responding to Greek governmental guidelines limiting large gatherings and encouraging social distancing to counter the spread of Covid-19, the US Embassy in Athens and the Consulate General in Thessaloniki have approached Independence Day differently this year.

Rather than hosting the annual July 4 receptions at the Ambassador’s residence in Athens and in Thessaloniki, the Mission is instead celebrating Independence Day through a series of events and social media engagements this week:

To capture the spirit of partnership the US shares with Greece, the US Mission is launching a commemorative Independence Day video in which US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, Consul General Greg Pfleger, and US Mission employees and friends convey a message of gratitude and hope, highlighting the fundamental values that unite Americans and Greeks.

Furthermore, the Mission redirected funds normally used for receptions to donate meals to Greek NGOs “Apostoli” (Mission) and “Kivotos tou Kosmou” (Ark of the World) in Athens, and to “Faros tou Kosmou” (Lighthouse of the World) and the soup kitchen of the Holy Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Thessaloniki.

“Philanthropy is an American tradition, a Greek word, and a deeply shared value. I can attest that all of us who serve at the US Mission are grateful for Greece’s response to the pandemic, where everyone united with resilience and compassion in order to save lives,” Pyatt said during a visit to Apostoli to deliver meals on Thursday.

Keeping up the American tradition for lighting up the night sky on July 4 – although not with fireworks this time – the US Embassy Chancery building in Athens, designed by the famous architect Walter Gropius, has been lit in red white and blue, and the historic YMCA building of Thessaloniki is also lit in the colors of the US flag.  Greek architectural photographer and alumnus of the Fulbright program Yiorgis Yerolymbos captured this unique moment. You click see the photos here.

Meanwhile, Greek journalist and radio host Panagiotis Menegos of Laternative, will broadcast an hour-long virtual “block party” on the Embassy’s Instagram page (@usembassyathens) on Saturday, at 1 p.m. featuring highlights from American rock & roll history.

“As Americans reflect on Independence Day this year, we do so in a challenging environment in which we must reckon with a once-in-a-lifetime health and economic crisis,” Pyatt said in a message addressing this year’s July 4 holiday.

“But, even as we grapple with issues of race and justice in America, it’s also clear that our democratic institutions are working. American society will pull together. We will get through this testing period and be stronger on the other side,” he said. 

“And one lesson of the pandemic is that our international partnerships are as important as they’ve ever been,” he said.