THE PRIDE OF OXI DAY
By Gary Van Haas
The magnificent Greek holiday Oxi Day is celebrated every
year in Greece on October 28th and mostly remembered for
general Ioannis Metaxas' strong reply of 'oxi' (no) to Mussolini's
request to allow Italian troops to come into Greece at the beginning
of WW II. The result of this stern message was powerful, and in the
end, helped to maintain Greece’s course of neutrality for
generations to come. Nevertheless, the Italians did invade Greece, but
were subsequently driven back into Albania.
The story begins in 1935, when King George II was restored to the
Greek throne by a rigged plebiscite, where he made the right-wing
general Ioannis Metaxas prime minister. Nine months later, Metaxas
assumed dictatorial powers with the king’s consent under the pretext
of preventing a communist-inspired republican coup. The October 28
national holiday also marks the date in 1940 when Greece entered WWII.
On that cherished day in Greek history, prime minister Ioannis Metaxas
not only rejected Italy's ultimatum, he chose the road of resistance,
and thus saved his reputation as a dictator. Cypriot countrymen also
drew inspiration from Greece's refusal to let Italian troops invade in
1940 in the face of continued Turkish agression. For that matter,
parades are also staged by Greek communities around the world in
celebration of Oxi Day.
Today in Greece, celebrations of Oxi Day culminate in a large, lavish
military parade down the main boulevards of Athens and Thessoloniki.
Soldiers, tanks, armoured vehicles and students parade through most
Greek cities with an air of pride, and politicans in reviewing stands
have an opportunity to show their own spirit to Greece and the
resistance and how in future generations it should it should be
continued. For tourists and foreigners, it's a proud spectacle to
behold, so if you're ever in Greece during that time, be sure and see