A day for Greeks to celebrate

A day for Greeks to celebrate

Today marks the celebra- tion of Greek Independence Day. For Greek Orthodox Christians everywhere, the importance of this day is twofold. First and foremost is the religious aspect of this day. It was on this day, known as The Annunciation, that Mary was told by the Archangel Gabriel that she was chosen by God to bear a child — Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of the religious significance, this day was chosen to mark the beginning of the Greek War of Independence against the Turks. The Ottoman Empire had overthrown and occupied the Greeks. This began in 1453 after the fall of Constantinople, now Istanbul. Despite the more than 400 years of Turkish oppression when thousands were killed and tortured for attending church and teaching their children the Greek culture, history and language, the Greeks would not give up. The church set up hidden schools. There were secret societies of freedom fighters, many of whom became national heroes that are honored to this day. There was additional support from many in America, Europe and Russia.

The decision to revolt was made and so the 25th of March was chosen as the day to begin the overt uprising and revolt against the Turks. Their battle cry was: “Freedom or death.” The fighting lasted for eight years until 1829. Fearing the Russian troops who came to help free Constantinople, the Turkish Sultan gave up the fight and accepted Greek independence.

All over the world, Greeks will be celebrating on this day. Young and old, all wearing traditional Greek costumes, will be participating in religious and ethnic programs, parades and dances.

I, personally want to thank Mrs. Irene Thomas who was the Campbell Greek school teacher for many, many years. Not only did she teach us to read and write Greek, but she went out of her way to instill in each and everyone of us the Greek spirit and love our mother country.

Mrs. Thomas now resides in a nursing home but no doubt about it, her thoughts will be with all her “children,” young and old, on this special day.

Caliope Gialousis, Campbell