Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Raleigh, North Carolina
28 October 2012
Each year on October 28th the Greek Diaspora from every continent are commemorating the OXI day victory along with the entire population in Greece and in Cyprus. Greeks are proud of their heritage and they love to celebrate their nations’ glorious history in honoring its people.
To better understand the crucial history of Europe, let us briefly review some of the political and military events that took place during the last century:
January 30, 1933, the evil spirited blood thirsty Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany
October 14, 1933 Germany quits the League of Nations
February 10, 1936 The German Gestapo is placed above the law.
May 9, 1936 Mussolini’s Italian forces take Ethiopia
November 10, 1938 marks the beginning of the Jewish holocaust.
March 15, 1939 Nazis take Czechoslovakia.
September1, 1939 Nazis invade Poland.
September 3, 1939 Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany.
September 5, 1939 United States proclaims its neutrality.
September 10, 1939 Canada declares war on Germany; Battle of the Atlantic begins
April 9, 1940 Nazis invade Denmark and Norway.
May 10, 1940 Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
July 1, 1940 German U-boats attack merchant ships in the Atlantic.
August 3, The Italians occupy British Somaliland in East Africa.
August 23, 1940 First German raids of central London.
September 13, 1940 Italians invade Egypt.
September 27, 1940 the alliance pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan.
October 28, 1940 Italy invades Greece.
All of these briefly mentioned military confrontations by the Axis Powers have made hell-like living conditions in Europe. Hundreds of innocent people were killed every day. Those who managed to stay alive had suffered beyond beliefs.
Let us for a moment regress our thoughts and find ourselves living in Greece during that time with our families and loved ones. Unless we feel their pain and war miseries, it is difficult to understand and value the real meaning of the word OXI.
In 1930, the economic and political situation in Greece was in shambles.
A strong influx of Asia Minor refugees inundated Greece. This had a significant impact on the Greek economy. In 1935, King George II was restored to the Greek Throne by political empowerment. The King made the right-wing General Ioannis Metaxa his Prime Minister and [Metaxa] assumed dictatorial power with the King’s consent, under the pretext of preventing a communist-inspired republican coup. The spread and fear of communism, being invaded by the enemy forces, was real. The Greek armed forces were weakened from The Greco-Turkish war. All efforts had failed to improve the Greek economy and the military power. Unemployment and famine were growing rapidly. People were in a desperate situation in preparation of war, as war was predictable.
When Mussolini gave his ultimatum to the Greeks, the last resort of hope for the impoverished Greek nation was to fight with all its might for the protection of their country and their freedom. And that they did with honor and without hesitation. Over one million men, women and children died to preserve their country’s identity and freedom.
The Greeks astonished the world with their courage and tenacity, despite their limited artillery and outdated military equipment against the outnumbering and well equipped invading force. Within four weeks of the invasion the freedom fighters drove the Italians into Albania and kept on going until they were 60 kilometers into Albania which is known as Northern Epirus. Mussolini had replaced his commanding generals several times and finally assumed command himself, but he could not break the fighting spirit for freedom of the Greek nation. Men, women, all young and old, fought side by side on the torturous and steep cold mountains, to stop the Italian Invasion of Greece. The Greeks shocked the world with their fist World War II victory, including the war fanatic Adolf Hitler. In a speech made at the Reichstag in 1941, Hitler expressed his admiration for the Greek resistance saying: "Historical justice obliges me to state that of the enemies who took up position against us, the Greek soldiers particularly fought with the highest courage."
The Italians were forced out from Greece, but the Germans paid an even worse price than the Italians. Hitler’s Chief of Staff Field Marshall Keitel said: "The unbelievable, strong resistance of the Greeks delayed two or more vital months for the German attack against Russia. If we did not have this long delay, the outcome of war would be different."
“Operation Barbarossa” failed miserably due to the winter cold. Military armaments and transportation of supplies to the German forces were diminished, so the Germans fell as casualties to the Russian army.
Winston Churchill, inspired by the Greek resistance during the Italian and German invasion, said: "Hence we will not say that the Greeks fight like heroes, but that all heroes fight like Greeks."
The American President Franklin Roosevelt stated "all free people are deeply impressed by the courage and steadfastness of the Greek Nation." In a letter to the Greek Ambassador dated Oct. 29, 1942, he wrote “Greece has set the example which every one of us must follow until the despoilers of freedom everywhere have been brought to their just doom.”
All of the nations that believe in democracy and freedom should give honor to the heroes who died for us to preserve democracy.
What can we do to safeguard our nations’ celebrated history and learn from it? Well, there is a simple answer. We must maintain communications with our youth on this subject so that they understand the principles of our united Greek and American democratic principles. We must continue to be inspired by our nations’ history and keep the same values and courage as our forefathers did 71 years ago. We can also hope and pray that history will never repeat itself and that all nations live in harmony and peace, and that we will continue to value humankind, peace, justice and freedom for all. This is the massage to the world as we celebrate the OXI DAY.
I will not feel comfortable as I stand by before you ignoring the current situation in Greece.
This year’s celebratory message is clearly more relevant than ever before. Greece is in a stage of generalized crisis from which she must exit. Such a catastrophic political turmoil has victimized its population. The immunity and impunity of leaders who acted in their own self-interest, the preservation of [their] privileges, benefits and scandalous fortunes are infuriating the citizens who see their [own] estates going up in smoke. These behaviors undermine their faith in their leaders, leading the masses and especially the young to anarchy and vigilante justice. Before I celebrate our past accomplishments, I need to know what will be the future of Greece.
King Leonidas with his three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae stopped eight thousand Persians. They gave their lives for their beloved country, in contrast to the three hundred Greek legislators who have destroyed people’s livelihoods and brought their country to its knees. Greece is on a verge of collapse with no genuine support from the Troika. She fears the invasion of her Islands by Turkish forces that claim the rights to newly discovered oil and gas reserves, concerning which Greece, Cyprus and Israel are in collaboration with the American-based Nobel Energy Company.
I do not wish to rain on your parade. This year, the OXI Parade in Athens and in Thessaloniki will have a bare minimum representation by Greek ranking officers without any politicians in the front lines of the parades.
Since this is not the forum for discussion of the political demagoguery of the Greek leaders I will stop my heartfelt remarks. I hope that no one will miss my point on this celebratory process. Greece is now under the occupation of the Troika which are (The European Commission, The European Central Bank, and The International Monetary Fund) imposing their strict rules of impossible austerity measures. Greece’s economy is completely ruined. The omens are bad. The heroic fighting solders and their sons are the new prisoners of a different form of war. Is this how the European countries thank the Greeks for their sacrifices to save Europe from being devoured by fascist Germany?
Since the theme of my speech is on the OXI day celebration, I will decline to make any further comments on Greece’s current catastrophic events.
I can attest to the paradoxical fact that the Greek Diasporas throughout the world are more connected to Hellenism than those living in Greece. This is a known fact that makes us proud of who we are. We the Greek Diaspora of the world should and must get involved in finding solutions for Greece’s deliverance from such a catastrophic path of their economy.
I trust and hope that our Greek forefathers’ zeal for freedom, patriotism, democracy, justice and above all their faith in God, will prevail.
I thank you,
Foti J.P. Fotiu