The struggle for liberty is a tale as old as time. There are very few common denominators that human beings possess from individual to individual but one of them is surely the desire to live freely. Greeks rose up over 100 times against the Ottoman Empire from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 through 1821 when the Greek War of Independence as we know it began. When one takes a look at the news these days, once again, the headlines around the world are dominated by a population defending their homeland against a brutal, delusional tyrant. Ukraine, a much smaller country than Russia and outgunned, has fought valiantly against supposedly the second most powerful army in the world.
The Greeks in the 1820s faced similar long odds and most Westerners did not actually believe Greece could beat back the Ottomans who had been occupiers of their homeland for four centuries and become free. Greece, 201 years later, endures despite having a neighbor (Turkey) that fundamentally does not respect its national sovereignty, much like Russia flagrantly disrespected Ukraine’s and illegally invaded the country. Greece is where democracy was founded and with ancient heroes that created such a rich cultural heritage, Modern Greece needed its own set of heroes to overcome the Ottoman menace. Indeed, many Greeks consider the day-to-day continued existence of the Modern Greek state to be something of a miracle.
Throughout Greece’s long history, either as a unified nation, or not, it seems that in the hour of maximum danger or crisis a generation of Greeks comes along and becomes worthy of the glorious burden of being a Hellene. We saw it in 1821, where a ragtag group of irregulars beat back an empire after four hundred years of occupation, brainwashing, massacres – the list of injustices goes on. Greece is a country used to adversity and rising to the occasion, and Greece will rise to meet the moment of the 21st century in a post Ukraine-Russia War Europe.
As Prime Minister Mitsotakis said, Greece is not a member of the West, Greece is the West. Greece and the population of the country have matured and are ready to lead at last in Southeastern Europe. The National Herald is honored to present to its readers this year’s unique commemorative issue for March 25th – Greek Independence Day. ‘Zito i Ellas!’