Pappas, Sarbanes, Bilirakis Introduce “OXI Day” Resolution
Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01), John Sarbanes (MD-03), and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), members of the Hellenic Caucus, introduced a resolution today expressing support for the designation of October 28 as “Oxi Day” to commemorate the Greeks’ refusal to surrender to Axis forces in the Second World War, stymieing the march of fascism across Europe.
On October 28, 1940, the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, delivered a 3 a.m. ultimatum to Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, demanding that Axis forces freely enter Greece or face war. In response, the Greek Prime Minister declared “Oxi!” – refusing to fold to the fascist ruler, marking Greece’s entry into World War II. As Italian troops began to invade, Greek citizens took to the streets chanting “Oxi!” in honor of Prime Minister Metaxas’ refusal to relent to fascism.
“On October 28, 1940 our Greek allies demonstrated unprecedented spirit and courage, changing the trajectory of history,” said Congressman Pappas. “Decades later we continue to celebrate Greece’s spirited refusal to bow to the Axis powers and the fascist values they espoused. As a member of the Hellenic Caucus, I am proud to lead this resolution that allows us to stand with our Greek allies and celebrate our shared democratic values.”
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in the Hellenic Caucus today as we pay tribute to the heroism of the Greek people, who — with a defiant “Oxi!” — rose up against bigotry, hate, and oppression 77 years ago and fiercely resisted the Axis invasion,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The example they set, then and now, serves as a beacon of hope for freedom and democracy across the entire world.”
“As a proud Greek American, I am honored to help commemorate the importance of Oxi Day and Greece’s significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany. This historic day celebrates the internal fortitude and relentless spirit of Hellenes, as well as our principled commitment to stand up against injustice and tyranny, regardless of the circumstances,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “We must never let future generations forget our rich cultural heritage which defines who we are as a people and helps guide our path forward,” he added.
Ohi Day or Oxi Day (Greek: Eπέτειος του Όχι, “Anniversary of the No”) is celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus and the Greek communities around the world on 28 October each year. Ohi Day commemorates the rejection by Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940, the Hellenic counterattack against the invading Italian forces at the mountains of Pindos during the Greco-Italian War and the Greek Resistance during the horrendous Axis occupation.
This ultimatum, which was presented to Metaxas by the Italian Ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, shortly after 03:00 am on 28 October 1940, who had just come from a party in the Italian embassy in Athens, demanded Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified “strategic locations” or otherwise face war. It was allegedly answered with a single, laconic word: όχι (No!). However, his actual reply was in French “Alors, c’est la guerre!” (so this is war!).
In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border at 05:30 am—the beginning of Greece’s participation in World War II.
On the morning of 28 October, the Greek population took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting ‘ohi’. From 1942, it was celebrated as Ohi Day, first mostly among the members of the resistance and after the war by all the Greeks.
During the war, 28 October was commemorated yearly by Greek communities around the world and in Greece and Cyprus, and after World War II it became a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus. The events of 1940 are commemorated every year with military and student parades. On every anniversary, most public buildings and residences are decorated with national flags. Schools and all places of work are closed.