Inspired by the The Washington Oxi Day Foundation, the Orthodox Christian Network features their important work to “inform American policymakers and the public about the profound role Greece played in bringing about the outcome of World War II and celebrating modern day heroes who exhibit the same courage as the Greeks did in continuing to fight to preserve and promote freedom and democracy around the world – Please join us in raising awareness for OXI Day.
Michael Psaros’ “OXI” Day Speech
Michael Psaros delivered the keynote speech at the Annual Oxi Day event on October 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. His speech follows below:
Today we celebrate, recognize and honor the 75th Anniversary of OXI DAY. I would like to recognize the constituencies present today – representatives of Government, representatives of the U.S. and Greek militaries, representatives of NATO and our coalition allies, representatives of the diplomatic core, the Greek American community and all Philhellenes. I would like to recognize Protoprsvyter Alexander Karloutsos, representative of His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and New Rome, and all the reverend clergy present.
I would like to thank and commend Archon Andy and Archon Mike Manatos for their brilliancein creating the Washington OXI Day Foundation and for hosting this solemn event. We all congratulate today’s honorees, three brave men who served their countries with honor and distinction during WWII.
We are gathered here today to honor and recognize the millions of men and women who fought for our countries, for the future of the world, for freedom, democracy and the American way.
As a Greek-American, I believe in American exceptionalism – we all do. Our community understands viscerally, emotionally and passionately that the United States of America is and always will be the land of opportunity, a shining city on the hill, a beacon of hope for the world, and the place that has fulfilled the dreams of tens of millions immigrants for centuries.
The men and women who fought in WWII, fought and died for not just for our country, but alsofor an idea. That idea was created over 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece. The idea of the primacy of the individual in society, of free will, of free choice, of free expression, of free action. An idea that would lead to the utter rejection of tyranny, of subjugation and oppression.
The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and continuing democratic experiment. I remind you the word Greek word democratia “democracy” is nothing more than an expression of this same idea created by the Greeks 2,500 years ago. Probably best expressed by the words that the government should be of the people, by the people and for the people. Not a government by and for the king, the emperor, the sultan, the tyrant or dictator.
OXI Day is not a discrete event that occurred 75 years ago. Rather it is an epic event in a continuum of 2,500 years of Greeks saying OXI! and thus inspiring the world. Through this continuum over the millennia, Greeks again and again have endured wars, struggles and mortal conflicts in defense of liberty. This idea is part of our culture, our language, our soul and our religion. OXI Day didn’t just happen in a vacuum. The weight of our history and our culture inspired Prime Minister Metaxas on that fateful day at that fateful moment.
The first triumphs of the Greeks are known to history and the world by their immortal names: Marathon, Thermopole, Salamis and Plataea that individually and collectively literally saved Western Civilization in its infancy. In each battle, each combatant, through his service at arms, said OXI! to the despotism of the East.
Next, the Greek people witnessed the deaths of our Orthodox Church’s Martyrs and Saints over the millennia, who went to their deaths, because they were unwilling to deny their faith. EachSaint and Martyr said OXI! through their actions and their ultimate sacrifice.
Unfortunately, this sacrifice continues to this day, as Christianity is being liquidated in the Middle East, in the place of its birth, without any assistance from the West. Each monk hanging onto his monastery in Mosul or Mar Matte in IRAQ, and each Christian that refuses to deny his faith in the Holy Land and Middle East, proclaims OXI!
Next the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople stood as a wall for a thousand years against the forces of the despotic East, allowing Western Civilization to develop and flourish. Each and every time an invader was repulsed from the walls of Constantinople, the Greeks said OXI!
After the fall of Constantinople, came 400 years of enslavement and bondage of the Greeks and Balkan Christians by the Ottoman Turks. For 400 years we fought to maintain our identity, our customs, our culture, our language, and our religion. Every Greek worldwide is taught as a child the expression “kaletera mias hora elefrethe zoi, para 40 xronia skavia kai filake”. Better one hour of freedom, than 40 years of slavery an imprisonment. Every Greek who spoke these words during those 400 dark years, and every Greek who secretly prayed in front of an Icon hidden in his home said OXI! After 400 years of saying OXI, Greece was the first nation to achieve freedom and independence from the Turks in 1821, a watershed moment in the history of human freedom. A moment that led to the subsequent liberation of all Christian nations and people in the Balkans.
Next came the sheer force of will required to survive the Genocide of the 1920s, where twomillion Christian Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians were murdered by the Turks, unapologetically, to this day. I remind you, when Hitler presented his “Final Solution” to his General Staff, upon questioning he said “and who remembers the Armenians”. Each Family who just survived this Genocide, and who survived the resultant forced resettlement, exclaimed OXI! every day, by their simple act of survival.
And this brings us to OXI DAY. We should recite here today the events that occurred, so the world beyond our community understands the magnitude of the events.
The facts speak for themselves. They require no oratory, no embellishment and no hagiography.
It all began when Mussolini’s Italy invaded Albania in 1939, forcing the abdication of King Zog, and the union of Albania with Italy. In response, both Great Briton and France provided Greece with guarantees of territorial integrity, but once the war started, those guarantees were meaningless – Greece was on its own.
Italy had 44 million people and Greece had 7 million. Italy’s army had 10 times the fire power of Greece, and its air force had total superiority. This is why Mussolini’s advisors thought its army would conquer Greece in two weeks.
So at 3am, on the morning of October 28th, 1940, Emmanuel Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Mussolini to Prime Minister Metaxas. Mussolini demanded that Greece surrender. Metaxas then delivered an unequivocal response OXI!
At 5:30 AM, before the ultimatum had even expired, the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into Northern Greece.
The Greeks went on to destroy the Italian Army, evict the Italian Army from Greece, counter-attacked, and invaded 60 kilometers into Italian occupied Albania. Mussolini, assumed personal command of the Italian army after firing many generals, because he was afraid the Greeks would cross the Adriatic and invade Italy.
This was the first Allied victory in WWII over an Axis Power.
Hitler could not tolerate a British presence in Greece, and also proceed with the invasion of Russia. He had to secure Germany’s Balkan flank, and coordinated with his Axis Ally, Bulgaria, to invade Greece.
Despite their defeat by Germany, the Greeks fought long and hard. For six months they fought the Italian army, and forced the Germans to delay the invasion of Russia. This delay proved fatal for the Germans. I remind you that Hitler’s tanks froze in the Russian ground within 30 miles of Moscow in December. What of history’s great “what ifs”, is what if Hitler’s army had arrived in Moscow two to three months earlier than December?
Unfortunately, during the German occupation, over 10% of the Greek population died – over 1 million people.
How important were those months that Greece fought the Axis? How important was the delay of the invasion of Russia?
Hitler’s Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Keitel, said of the Greek’s extraordinary achievement when he testified at the Nuremberg Trials:
“The unbelievably strong resistance of the Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia; if we did not have this long delay, the outcome of the war would have been different in the Eastern Front and the war in general”.
And that is why Winston Churchill said “If there had not been the virtue and courage of the Greeks; we do not know which the outcome of WWII would have been”. He continued “Hence, we will NOT say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.”
President Roosevelt said “When the entire world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared question the invincibility of the German monster, rising against it the proud spirit of freedom”
Finally, Joseph Stalin said “I am sorry because I shall not live long enough to thank the Greek People, whose resistance decided WWII…You fought unarmed and won. Small against big. You gave us time to defend ourselves. We owe you gratitude.”
So, in conclusion, please join me with pride, in saying OXI!
About The Washington Oxi Day Foundation
The 75th anniversary of Oxi Day takes place on October 28, 2015 in Washington DC. We invite you to learn about The Washington Oxi Day Foundation’s annual celebration by clicking here.
Today’s heroes around the world who – in the spirit of Oxi Day – courageously battle Goliaths for freedom and democracy are nominated by America’s policymakers and opinion leaders to be honored before international and national leaders convening in Washington, D.C. each October for the Annual Washington Oxi Day Celebration.
Some of the dignitaries include:
- Senators and Members of Congress
- Senior White House, Defense and State Department officials
- World War II veterans
- Officials and Ambassadors from Greece and other nations.
This multi-day event of international significance celebrates:
- The day Greece refused to surrender, thereby inflicting the wound that eventually brought down the Axis forces in David vs Goliath fashion.
- Those modern-day Davids who have demonstrated the same courage as the Greeks in fighting for freedom and democracy in their own nations.
Please Donate & Support the efforts of The Washington OXI Day Foundation
We invite you to support the efforts of The Washington OXI Day Foundation. Proceeds from your donation will fund ongoing activities by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation in its mission to educate American policymakers and the public about the profound role Greece played in bringing about the outcome of WWII.
Please click here to make donation to The Washington OXI Day Foundation.
Source: OXI Day Foundation
Please visit and learn about The Washington OXI DAY Foundation.