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Greek Independence
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-03-25 09:12:07
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March 25th for the Greek people is a very special day and a dual celebration. On this day in 1821 the Greeks began a revolution against the Ottoman Empire that led to freedom and independence after 400 years of occupation and for the Greek Orthodox Church it is one of the holiest days in the calendar; the Annunciation of Mary - the day that the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child.

This is probably why the Bishop of Patras Germanos seized the opportunity in a secret service to bless the revolution and somehow mark its beginning. Cries of ‘Eleftheria i thanatos – Freedom or death’ have often been heard in the Greek history but then it was a reality in this secret service inside the church and for the freedom fighters who were giving their oath for freedom.

These freedom fighters of Greece sacrificed much for the independence of their country. Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Karaiskakis, Bouboulina, Papaflesas, Diakos and Mpotsaris among many others are some of the heroes of the revolution. The words Freedom or death are representing on the Greek flag by the blue and white stripes/syllables.

The struggle for the Greek independence was supported abroad by many politicians, army officers and especially intellectuals, including Lord Byron of England, Daniel Webster and Dr. Samuel Gridly Howe of the US who raised the interest level among Europeans and Americans.

Centuries of unsuccessful uprisings and failure of the Ottoman Empire to assimilate and convert the Greeks, the War of Independence that began in 1821 rising was natural and united all the Greeks inside the Ottoman Empire and abroad, plus the timing was good to bring a lot of foreigners who had seen what the Ottomans had done to one of the oldest civilizations and felt that it was enough.

During the dark years of the occupation, thousands were killed and tortured for teaching their children culture, history and language and it was the year 1829, when the Sultan Mahmud II, facing the Russian troops at the gates of Constantinople, accepted Greek independence with the Treaty of Adrianople.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-03-25 11:54:28
The 19th century has been called, among other things, the century of Romantic nationalism. Of course Lord Byron lend such an aura of “romanticism” to all liberation struggles going on in Europe in the 19th century and he did with more than mere rhetoric and poetry: he gave his life for Greece. But if truth be told, there was little of the romantic in those nationalistic struggles for unification and independence which were often brutal. It was going in Italy too at the time but was only successful in 1860 some thirty years after Greece. The artist genius who helped tremendously in such a struggle was not a poet but a composer, Giuseppe Verdi, especially via his opera Nabucco which depicts the longing for liberation of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. When in 1860 the unification was achieved Cavour, one of its architects said: “Now that we have made Italy we have to make the Italians,” which sounds ominously similar to “now that we have made the European Union, we have to make the Europeans.”

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