October 28th is the 74th anniversary of Oxi Day – a holiday celebrated in Greece and by Greeks throughout the world, commemorating Greece’s historic response of “Oxi – No!” against Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini’s demand that Greece allow Italian forces to enter its territory in order to occupy strategic positions as WWII continued.
That initial resistance, along with courageous battles to thwart Italy’s and Germany’s advances, prompted Winston Churchill to declare that from that point forward, “we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.”
But international regard for Greece’s valor was not limited to Churchill. Quite notably, it was a boost for the image of Greek-Americans, who only decades earlier had begun to immigrate to the United States in large numbers.
In the eyes of their non-Greek fellow Americans, Greeks in the United States were associated with bravery and considered valuable allies to the United States.
Oxi Day, therefore, is a particularly significant holiday for Greek-Americans to honor: not only in tribute to the heroics of their forebears, but also because those brave acts lifted their image in their new country of choice.