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 Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With celebration and song we greet once again the return of the Twenty-Eighth of October, the anniversary of OXI Day. This is a day of rich significance, not only for the people of Greece, but for Hellenes and Philhellenes throughout the world. Surely it is a day for offering up in our parishes the consummate act of thanksgiving, the Eucharist, along with services of doxology and prayers for those who have fallen asleep on behalf of the Faith and their native land.
What indeed is it that we observe in our celebrations of OXI Day? We are not commemorating the birth or death of a great leader. We are not commemorating an armistice or a diplomatic coup. We are not commemorating a miraculous act of divine deliverance, nor even a military victory in the immediate sense, although it is universally accepted that the Battle of Greece delayed the Fascist conquest and allowed the Allied powers a chance to counterattack and ultimately to defeat the Axis aggressors.
Rather, what we as Orthodox Christians of Hellenic heritage celebrate every OXI Day is kairos, in the ancient sense of this unique Greek word, a critical juncture in the history of a human being or a people. October 28, 1940 was a day of revelation, both to the Greeks themselves and to the whole worldthe revelation of the character and spirit of Hellenism. For it was the whole citizenry of Greece who rose up with the resounding OXI to Mussolini in defiance of the forces of hatred, terrorism, and injustice. It was this solidarity and bravery of the Greek people that inspired Sir Winston Churchill to declare, Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but the heroes fight like Greeks.
Such a kairos, such a defining moment of national determination, was not the product of a single generation, but the culmination of thousands of years of experience forged by countless trials and triumphs. The selfless sacrifice of Thermopylae, the fearful deprivations following the fall of Constantinople, the glorious struggles of Greek Independenceall these events and more have been the furnace and the anvil shaping and tempering the Hellenic character, fashioning the unalloyed resolve to say NO to the brutish tyrant. Such a kairos was the outcome of a national history that is ancient, unique, unmatchable, and greatly blessed by God.
Some nations are rich in gold; some nations are rich in oil or minerals or farmland. But the children of Hellenism have treasures greater than all these, treasures that cannot be exhausted or stolen or diminished in any way. The children of Hellenism are rich in historythe kind of history that makes possible a defining moment and a national treasure like OXI Day. Not only so, but through the eventual victory of the Allies secured by the heroism of OXI Day, this inestimable treasure of Greece becomes the common treasure of all the free peoples of the world. Let, therefore, all the citizens of the world commemorate and rejoice in the riches of October Twenty-Eight, since such history is a wealth that can be lost only through forgetfulness.
Thanks be to God for the gift of the Twenty-Eighth of October!
With paternal love in Christ,
+ Archbishop of America