To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Order of St. Andrew, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, the members of our Parishes and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Once again we greet with joy the arrival of the Twenty-Eighth of October. As Greek Orthodox Christians, we know this day as "OXI Day," a reference to the defiant "NO" (or "OXI") that the Hellenic nation boldly proclaimed in 1940 to the demands of Mussolini to surrender to the dark forces of Fascism that were sweeping across Europe at that time. This day is important because of the example that the nation of Greece set for the rest of the world. Greece's defiance to the demands of a hostile fascist aggressor stood for the undeniable, moral claim that there are certain values in this world that are so precious and so sacred, that they cannot be compromised at any cost.
These values are those of liberty and freedom. The Hellenic nation knew then, as the world knows now, that God out of His love for all humankind has bestowed liberty and freedom as inalienable rights to people of every culture, race, and religion the world over. The right to live in conditions of liberty and freedom represents the product of a beautifully rich synthesis of Hellenism and Christianity. It speaks directly to us as Greek Orthodox Christians, who are the proud bearers of this cherished and unique legacy, which we have the responsibility to share with our neighbors.
In reviewing the history of October 28, OXI Day, it is natural for us to look first and foremost to our fathers and their noble actions in Greece in 1940. Interestingly though, if we look deeper into our own American history, we find a notable connection with the date of October 28; for on that day, in 1886, another important event that stood for liberty and freedom took place, namely, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, a safe harbor for hundreds of thousands of immigrants to America. Much in the same way, this event too confirmed the fundamental rights of liberty and freedom, and today the Statue of Liberty stands as a monument that continues to herald these ideals to people throughout the world.
Thus, as we commemorate the Twenty-Eighth of October, we first bring to mind the events of Greece in 1940 and the courageous "OXI" which the brave Hellenic nation uttered in the face of fascist aggression. We remember the stand of our Hellenic fathers for liberty and freedom at all costs, which was a stand mandated by their Orthodox Christian faith. Second, we take this opportunity to probe deeper into notable events in American history that also occurred on the Twenty-Eighth of October, specifically the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886, which stood for the very same principles. In so doing, we re-discover precious symbols and events in history which bring unique import to us as Greek Orthodox Christians who are citizens and residents of America, our beloved second home.
We are thankful to God for giving us important events in history which serve to remind us of the precious gifts of liberty and freedom. It is my heartfelt prayer that as we reflect upon the significance of this date, we may direct our hearts and minds to reflect upon the conditions of liberty and freedom which are essential to our identity as Greek Orthodox Christians and which rightfully belong to all human beings, especially in places where these conditions are lacking. May the abiding love and peace of our gracious and merciful God be with you always.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America