28-10-17 Öxi!

Saturday 28th October 2017

Today is the 28th October in Greece the anniversary of one of Greece’s most glorious moments – OXI Day.

Today we are rejoicing! Along with the whole of Greece, Cyprus and the Greek  communities around the world, we are celebrating the day that this small country decided to be David and take on Goliath.

This morning as the sun shone upon the land Kingsley, JiaJia Dora and I join our community in the Saronida town square in honouring our heroes and giving thanks for the valiant and courageous  stance our forefathers took on that historic day in October of 1940.

OXI Day commemorates the day that Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected the ultimatum given by Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, on October 28, 1940.

This ultimatum, a demand that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory or otherwise face war, was presented to Metaxas by the Italian Ambassador in Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, on October 28, 1940, at dawn (04:00 AM), ironically enough after a party in the German Embassy in Athens.

Metaxas immediately answered with a single word ‘OXI’ – A BIG FAT ‘NO!”

The Greek leader’s ‘no’ represented the sentiments and principles of the entire Greek people. This word marked the beginning of the country’s involvement in the Second World War.

An hour and a half after Metaxas’ response, at 05:30 AM, Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border.

The Greek nation was now officially at War!

Greece’s participation in the war, daring to take a forceful and determined stand against the spreading fascism in Europe, was so much more impressive than many of the surrounding countries who gave in relatively quickly and with a much smaller ‘cost’.

One of the more well known salutes to the heroism of the Greek people was given by the US President Franklin D Roosevelt, who summed it all up beautifully…

“On the 28th of October 1940 Greece was given a deadline of three hours to decide on war or peace but even if a three day or three week or three year were given, the response would have been the same. The Greeks taught dignity throughout the centuries. When the entire world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the German monster raising against it the proud spirit of freedom.”
Franklin D Roosevelt, US President 1933 – 1945

The resistance against Mussolini’s troops and the subsequent German invasion was legendary. The Battle of Crete, in May 1941 was pivotal. A small nation, with very few means but with valiant and courageous people who showed determination and nobility of spirit, refusing to bow to the oppressor, worked with the Allied Forces and succeeded in delaying the German advance enough to affect the outcome of World War II.

The cost was enormous for Greece,  economically, structurally and more importantly in terms of ‘casualties’. The entire male population of some villages was sent to the firing squad, executed because they refused to name a saboteur or the perpetrator of an anti-Nazi act. This did not cower the Greeks, they resisted with heart and soul until the very end.

And today littlest patriot, Kingsley, marches with pride in the parade along Saronītha’s streets flying the flag lest we forget.