US Representatives Chris Pappas (NH), John Sarbanes (MD) and Gus Bilirakis (FL) introduced a resolution to designate October 28 as “Oxi Day” to commemorate the Greeks’ refusal to surrender to Axis forces during World War II — stymieing the march of fascism across Europe.
On October 28, 1940, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini delivered a 3 a.m. ultimatum to Greek national leader Ioannis Metaxas demanding that Axis forces freely enter Greece or face war. Metaxas promptly responded with “Alors, c’est la guerre,” meaning “So, it is war” in French, and to say more broadly — “no!”
Italian troops thus invaded and prompted Greece’s entry into the war. Greek citizens took to the streets chanting “Oxi!” in honor of Metaxas’ refusal to relent to the fascist Italians.
Congressman Pappas said he is “proud” to lead the resolution in recognition of Greece’s bravery and heroic defiance of Axis powers during WWII.
“On October 28, 1940 our Greek allies demonstrated unprecedented spirit and courage, changing the trajectory of history,” Pappas said. “Decades later we continue to celebrate Greece’s spirited refusal to bow to the Axis powers and the fascist values they espoused.”
Congressman Sarbanes added on to his colleague’s message, calling Greece’s actions a “beacon of hope for freedom and democracy” for the world.
“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 79 years ago and fiercely resisted the Axis invasion,” Sarbanes said. “The example they set — then and now — serves as a beacon of hope for freedom and democracy across the entire world.”
Congressman Bilirakis called himself a “proud Greek American” and said it is an honor for him to help promote this resolution alongside Pappas and Sarbanes.
“We must never let future generations forget our rich cultural heritage,” Bilirakis said. “It defines who we are as a people and helps guide our path forward.”
Cover photo: The New York Times, October 28, 1940. Original newspaper from the collection of Gregory C. Pappas.
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