(TLN) Several hundred patriotic Greeks joined leaders from the local Hellenic community and Montreal-area elected officials for a ceremony at the Hellenic Community Centre on Oct. 27 marking the 79th anniversary of the day towards the beginning of World War II when Greece rejected its occupation by Axis forces.
Oxi Day is celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus and Hellenic communities around the world each year to commemorate the refusal by Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas to accept an ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on Oct. 28, 1940.
The ultimatum was presented to Metaxas by the Italian ambassador to Greece. It demanded that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain strategic locations, or otherwise face war. The name for the day comes from Metaxas’ straightforward reply. “No,” he is reputed to have said curtly, following which he added, “Then it is war.”
They took to the streets
In response, Italian troops stationed in Albania, which was an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border, marking the beginning of Greece’s involvement in World War II. On the morning of Oct. 28, Greeks took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting “Oxi.” Since 1942, it has been a national celebration marked annually.
Dignitaries who attended this year’s event organized by the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal included the Consul General in Montreal for Greece, several Montrealand Laval-area MPs, city councillors from Montreal and Laval and local Greek community representatives.