Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Greece, David D. Pearce
16 October 2015
Aboard USS Winston S. Churchill
Ministers, Senators, spouses, Admirals, Generals, distinguished guests. Good evening. Thank you, commander, for that kind introduction.
My wife Leyla and I are both honored to be with you tonight on board the USS Winston Churchill, and I particularly want to thank Commander Paul Allgeier and the crew of this great ship for their hospitality to all of us, and their service to our nation. Ship visits like this are a very important reminder of the enduring alliance between Greece and the United States.
It is quite fitting that the Winston Churchill is here shortly before Oxi Day, which falls on October 28. Oxi Day, or “No Day,” marks the anniversary of Greece’s emphatic rejection, in 1940, of Mussolini’s ultimatum that it surrender to his fascist army. Instead, the Greeks said “no,” and fought back against the Italians pouring over the Albanian border. Winston Churchill paid tribute to the valor of the Greek resistance saying, “until now we would say that the Greeks fight like heroes. From now on we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.”
I can testify that that proud legacy lives on in the Greek armed forces (many of whose seniormost leaders are with us here tonight). I am also proud to see U.S. servicemen and –women serving alongside their Greek counterparts as allies in NATO. Together, the U.S. and Greece have long worked to safeguard the security and stability of this critical region.
It is a signal honor to have with us this evening six U.S. Senators — Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Senator Thad Cochrane of Mississippi, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Senator Dan Coats of Indiana — as well as their spouses and senior staff. Their presence is concrete testimony to the value the United States places on its friendship and its alliance with Greece and the Greek people.
It is also a real personal pleasure to note the multiple connections that this event has to my own home state, Maine. Senator Collins, of course, hails from Caribou, Maine and lives with her husband Tom Daffron, who is also with us tonight, in Bangor. But another distinguished Maine native is this ship itself – an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, the Winston Churchillwas built in the late 1990s by the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine – a town where I have lived and worked myself. So the Pine Tree State is well represented tonight.
I’ll end by saying thank you, once again, to the officers and sailors aboard the USS Winston Churchill for hosting us, and thank you to this very distinguished delegation led by Senator Alexander for visiting. I would now like to invite Senator Lamar Alexander to speak.