America and Greece: More Alike than Some Would Like to Admit

Veteran’s Day Morning in SoFla

This morning at Saint Mark Greek Orthodox Church in Boca Raton, Florida we had a color guard and an acting officer in our U.S. military present both the American and Greek flag in celebration and honorance of Veteran’s Day.  As a congregation we sang in unison both respective national anthems with our hands over hearts. The speeches, music and unified revere for both nations created an emotional atmosphere.  It was a reminder that the United States and Greece are still bound with more similarities than we realize.

U.S. Presidential Election Redux: So Easy to Throw Punches

It’s less than a week since our nation had our elections and already the discussions abound as to how our country can move forward and actually tackle some of the immediate problems that affect our citizens: among some of the major topics being a sluggish economy, widespread debt in personal lives as well as the municipalities and the ongoing threats to our active military posts.

It was just a few weeks ago during the second publicized debate between President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Greece was mentioned in a less than favorable manner.  In short, Mr. Romney verbally attacked President Obama’s notions and policies as sending America down the path of becoming like Greece.  Just in case you missed it, this was a grave insult hurled at Greeks both in America and abroad.

Roots, Entanglements and Exercises

Documented and debated history points to Ancient Greece as the cradle of what we know as modern democracy today.  For instance, about 2400 years ago in Athens they would draw 500 names from the citizens of Athens (excluding women, children and slaves/servants) who would serve as the law makers and all eligible citizens were required to vote on proposed legislation and such—the formation of various city-states like Sparta and Athens were formed around 1000 B.C.

Fast forwarding to the 20th century, modern Greece entered World War II in late 1940 and the country itself suffered through a famine that killed thousands between the years 1941-42.  By January 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was persuaded to create a new 112nd Infantry Battalion to be based in Camp Carson, Colorado.  Incidentally, the number “122” had a symbolic meaning at the time representing 122 years of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire.  This battalion was comprised of Greek-Americans who would be sent over to help Greece as she fought against the Nazis’ occupation and such.

Whether it be by infused political and military philosophies, shared love of food and fun, the athletic contests of the Olympic Games and several articles that could be written on the subject matter we have in common—The United States and Greece have a historic love affair with each other that we can readily embrace or with weak arguments try to disguise the existence of such a liaison.

Dollars, Euros and Sense?

In today’s the New York Times, there is an article referring to Greece’s most recent struggle to face the specific realities of its current economic problems—“Friedrich Schneider, an economics professor…in Linz, Austria estimates that about 120 billion euros in Greek assets lie outside the country…representing an extraordinary 65% of the country’s overall economic output”.  The piece outlines the current idea to create an amnesty program for those who have evaded taxes in the past with a lure of a 15-20% flat tax on everyone. For more of the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/12/business/global/greece-renews-struggle-against-tax-evasion.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Here in America, the latest from newly re-elected President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been trading sound bites on their hope that both sides can work together avoiding the infamous coined “fiscal cliff”.  Although President Obama should be able to garner support with House Republicans since he’s going into his second and final term and doesn’t have the political pressure to stay sole party line—in turn, Republicans should be willing to work the President for the common goal of bringing American back to financial health and onward.

From President Obama’s 2012 Campaign: How Do We Go “Forward”?

I’ve only mentioned a couple of items that both Greece and the United States have to tackle despite the general consensus of negative attitudes toward the government and the sparring respective political party factions.  When will the goal of government leaders become to harness power to work for positive change in the interest of their citizens rather than trying to convince their citizens as to why they are the better ones to have the power over their political opponents?

What Greece and the United States have shown in their respective election cycles and financial meltdowns is that a change in philosophical mindset and public discourse is happening whether those in governmental power recognize it or not.  Greece will forever hold a place in the United State’s history of a democratic influence and today the U.S. is linked with her still as we are trying to navigate this new ground of adjusting our economic policies and trying to energize our population to continue its education, creativity and overall American way.

Americans and Greeks alike have changed the course of human history when they summon the courage to go forward for the right reasons and sacrifice the wrong reasons to blaze a positive and resounding trail forward.

R. Saridakis Bean

Sources:

http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/articles/ossgreece.aspx

http://www.ancient-greece.us/democracy.html

www.wikipedia.com

www.nytimes.com

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