Meeting Greeks


President Coolidge welcoming to the White House (for the first time in history) members of a Greek organization in America, February 3, 1929.

Among the many historical firsts of which Calvin Coolidge took part is this: the first meeting with an organization of Greek-born Americans, the newly formed American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), on this day, February 3, 1929. Coming to the White House on this blustery day they found in Mr. Coolidge a person fascinated by the work of the organization and the Greek people. His interest in the culture and contributions of Greece in this country was not merely academic (from his study of classical history), but was practical and genuine.

When the Coolidges embarked on their first and only cross-country tour after leaving the White House, they took the time to stop in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and spent the day on the water, viewed the lighthouse, enjoyed the local food, and, of course, learned the sponge-diving business. Full of questions, the Coolidges would report their visit to be one of the greatest highlights of their trip.

It was simply Cal’s way to keep the President’s door open to everyone, knowing that what united us was greater and more important than the superficial differences of race or class. He knew America brought us all together and thus, serving one another rather than being served must prevail. We are all in the same boat now, he had said four years before. Perhaps he visualized that analogy again talking with these fellow citizens. It would never work to sabotage or sink the vessel but expect to remain dry ourselves. We would all need one another to preserve our compass, weather the storms, keep on course, and avoid shipwreck.


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