Consecration of the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Piraeus, Mr. Seraphim and in the presence of the Minister of Maritime and Island Policy Christos Stylianidis, the Deputy Minister of Maritime and Island Policy Ioannis Pappas, the Secretary General of Maritime and Ports Evangelos Kyriazopoulos, the Secretary General Vice Admiral L.S. Alexandros Tselikis and the 2nd Deputy Commander of the Coast Guard – Hellenic Coast Guard Vice Admiral L.S. Aristides Pantazoglou, the event commemorating the National Anniversary of October 28, 1940 took place today at the building of the Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy.
The ceremony was also attended by senior and senior Officers of the Coast Guard – Hellenic Coast Guard and personnel of the Coast Guard – Hellenic Coast Guard, civil servants of the Ministry, the Presidents of the Club L.S. and of the Union of Discharged Officers L.S., as well as representatives of trade unions L.S.
The following is the speech of the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy:
“Your honor, respected priesthood,
allow me to adopt the protocol from Mr. Deputy Minister and Mr. Captain who delivered the Solemnity for our national anniversary, so as not to repeat the same.
Addressing first a good morning to everyone in the Coast Guard and the civil servants of the Ministry.
Today’s event here at the Ministry is a modest one and listening to Giannis and also to Mr. Captain, I said to leave the speech we prepared for a bit and, as I said to His Excellency, to say two words from the heart.
For this anniversary that, personally, seals my life and also sealed my life. Because I had a father who fought in World War II but also my own political father, my political mentor, Glaukos Clerides. He was also a prisoner of war when he was a pilot in the British RAF (Royal Air Force).
My father enlisted in the British troops in Cyprus in 1939, because for those who remember history, the British had promised the Greeks of Cyprus, the union with Greece. The young Cypriots at that time decided to enlist en masse in the British army with the vision of union. This is the historical reality.
My father was one of those who enlisted in the British Army, he fought in a lot of battles in the Middle East as well and ended up working with the British troops and with the Rimini Mountain Brigade taking part in the great allied victory in the epic of Rimini.
You realize that I grew up in a house where October 28 had a special meaning, a special gravity. It was a three-day tour, my father was a cantor, so it was an atmosphere that honestly still moves me.
Entering politics and getting to know my political mentor and father, Glaukos Clerides, former President of the Republic of Cyprus, I saw that he too was a man who gave his life, his youth at the time, participating in the fight against Nazism and fascism, being a British RAF pilot. He too became a member of this entire World War II epic. He was captured, spent about a year and a half in concentration camps, managed to escape. It happened that these two people, who marked my life from different starting points, were also at the liberation of Greece in ’44 in different places.
My father participated with the British troops, in fact he was a guard at the “King George” hotel in Syntagma Square at the time and unfortunately also faced the events of the civil war. And Glaukos Clerides something similar in a different area. He was also a member of the liberation process of Greece, a supporter of the Greek resistance fighters.
I said this because I believe that we honor anniversaries when we simultaneously honor specific persons. These faces inspire us. Our history, Greek history, is not just words and theories. It is a story that has names, it is, as was said before, the “mother” of Pindos, it is the Limenikos who participated in all the major operations of the time, it is the soldier, it is the woman of the Red Cross, it is Menelaus Stylianides, Glaukos Cleridis.
This is what I wanted to say to you and I will close, because I don’t like many words, with what Churchill said and it went down in history as a legacy and will remain indelible, at least for all European peoples. We realized after the battle of Pindos that we should no longer say that “the Greeks fought as heroes”, but that, “Heroes fight as Greeks”.
Happy birthday to everyone!”
The following is the speech of the Deputy Minister of Shipping and Island Policy:
“The national anniversary of the great “NO” to the Italian conqueror and to the darkness of fascism which we celebrate today has a special semiotics.
All the countries of Europe remember and celebrate the day they were freed from the shackles of fascism. We also celebrate this day every year on October 12, a day designated as the official end of the occupation period in 1944.
But think about it, in Greece we celebrate the day we entered the war and not the day the war ended.
We celebrate the day when the Greek people took to the streets to say the big “NO” to whoever wanted to encroach on their freedom.
The Greeks did not consider for a moment who they had in front of them. They put their pride and freedom on the one hand and the war threat of a great power of the time on the other.
They did it and I am convinced that they will do it again against anyone who thinks that with the threat of power they will be able to underestimate the spirit, the soul and the pride of the Greeks.
Our country, of course, paid a heavy price for a “NO”.
Dead that exceeded half a million on battlefields, in the firing squads of the war and from its hardships.
In the river of blood that was shed for freedom and democracy, the Greeks were on the right side of history.
We honor and will continue to honor this national anniversary by reverently bowing to our glorious ancestors firmly against those who want us to revise or forget.
As we will not forget that the proud Greek shipping directly and indirectly paid a heavy blood tax.
The seafaring family mourned over 2,000 dead and hundreds who continued to live with the memories of a dark period that haunted their lives.
60% of the merchant ships of the Greeks, which corresponded to almost 14% of the allied merchant fleet, were completely destroyed within just 4 years, from 1941 to 1945.
Executives and officers of the Coast Guard were also sacrificed on the altar of Democracy and National Independence.
Putting their fellow men and their lives first, they protected sailors and their families, provided aid at the cost of their own lives, and fled fighters to escape the fascist occupation forces.
The Greeks at every moment of their long history verify the words of the great Greek poet Kostis Palamas. “The Greatness of peoples is not measured by the acre. Fever is measured by the heart and blood”.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Greece may be a small country but it has a long history and the Greeks have a great mental reserve.
As many times as we stood at the crossroads of history we made the right decision and I’m sure we will do it again.
We owe it to our History, to our glorious past and to a creative and hopeful future, to previous and future generations.
Cheer for the nation!”
Read the original at Defence247.gr