Ambassador Pyatt’s Remarks at Lions Clubs International Board of Directors Opening Meeting

March 24, 2017, 9:30 am

Grande Bretagne Hotel, Athens, Greece

As Delivered

Καλημέρα.  Good morning, everybody.  It is a great pleasure for me to be with you here today.  Thank you, President Corlew, for inviting me to speak this morning.

It’s a special pleasure for me to welcome you to the beautiful city of Athens.  For my fellow Americans, this is a very, very big day in U.S.-Greek relations.  Tomorrow is Greek Independence Day.  Last night, Vice President Pence joined the Greek Defense Minister at Blair House for a dinner to begin the commemoration of the Greek Independence Day in Washington.  And then, this afternoon at the White House, there will be a very large reception hosted by President Trump to celebrate the holiday.  So, it is very fitting that you are here today.

It is also very fitting that Lions International has their Board Meeting here in Greece because there is a long history of community service in this country.  The Ancient Greek concept of ‘philanthropia’ – the love of humanity; caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing what it means to be human – is very much alive and well here.  Recently, we’ve seen the extraordinary generosity of the Greek people as they have welcomed and cared for thousands of refugees and migrants who landed on these shores seeking safety and a better life.  The generosity of the Greek people, in response to this crisis, has been truly inspiring.  The Lions Clubs, of course, represent this same spirit of humanitarian service and volunteerism all over the world – including right here, with your work in Greece.

Civil society groups, powered by dedicated volunteers, like yourselves, can have tremendous impact.  At the U.S. Embassy, we are proud to partner with Greek civil society.  Our partnerships have a multiplier effect – increasing the impact of our joint initiatives more than any of our organizations could do alone.

I want to congratulate you on the centennial anniversary of the Lions Clubs International.  Your organization is a model for other service organizations.  The success of the Lions Clubs also shows the tremendous impact that a few dedicated individuals can have.  From the vision of one Chicago businessman, your organization has grown over the past century into a truly impressive global organization with chapters all over the world.

I hope that others, including right here in Greece, continue to follow in your footsteps, following your simple, but powerful motto: “We Serve.”  I truly believe that in service to others, we not only do our most meaningful work, but we also find life’s greatest fulfillment.

I wish you all a very productive meeting this weekend.  I hope that you enjoy all that this historic and beautiful city has to offer and I thank you very much for the opportunity to be with you this morning.  Ευχαριστώ πολύ.