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Greece’s Independence Day

by admin on October 5, 2011

ATHENS, Greece — For 400 years starting in 1453, the land of Greece was dominated by Turkey.

The loss of their freedom was no small thing for the Greeks and, over time, and despite many small cultural exchanges with their conquerors, the Greeks’ desire for freedom grew stronger.

As the years passed, a band of Greeks operating from hideaways in the mountains patiently passed the word revolution from person to person and village to village, until finally on March 25, 1821, the spark of revolution touched the carefully guarded tinder in people’s hearts and in a small village people began shouting “Freedom or Death!” a phrase we Greeks still deeply respect today.

The revolution that began that day was a fight for freedom (eleftheria) — a free land, free hearts, and freedom of thought and belief. The Greeks, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, gave their whole selves to the revolution and, after nine years, the war for freedom ended in success and Greece was freed of Turkish rule.

On March 25, 2011, Greeks of all ages gathered in Athens’s central Syntagma Square in t-shirts and light jackets. Fortunately, and not unusually, it was sunny weather; happy Greeks were clapping and smiling at army service personnel who marched along the customary parade route toward Greek President Karolos. The president watched the Greek soldiers as they passed and formally saluted him with heads turned and fingers pointing to their eyebrows.

Conspicuously absent this year were military aircraft flying over the ceremonies, a reminder that the government this year is pinching its cents, (euro pennies).

While watching, I compared the past with the present; 190 years of freedom and each year celebrated with the same rituals. Yet each of those years has passed in a different way for Greece. The past year 2010, and this year 2011 have been difficult with a lot of upheaval in the country as it hit bottom due to internal corruption and became reliant on foreign aid.

In a sense, these modern woes have conquered the Greek nation once again, and while we retain our political and ideological freedoms, the Greeks have become enslaved by the rule of political corruption and handed over to foreign controllers from our sister countries in Europe.

It has been difficult for many Greeks to see the corruption of the country showcased on the international stage and to accept that they could not solve their crisis through their own means.

But for a day, Independence Day, Greeks put aside their cares about losing jobs and their worry about the future and increasing poverty, and smiled and clapped. And afterward they joined one another for coffee and very long chats, which are customary here, and give one the hope that freedom is still possible, and that at any rate, things now are not as bad as they were for our ancestors under the Turks.

Our great warriors of the past had to wait 400 hundred years to oust their oppressors and modern Greeks will now have to see how many years it will take for a free, uncorrupted Greece to emerge; one without debts and without Monetary Bank brains ruling the country.

Greece, let’s strive forward for a new Independence Day!

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