Greece marked “OXI Day”, the anniversary of when the nation said “No” to the fascist aggression in 1940, with a military parade in the center of the city of Thessaloniki on Thursday.
Military units, including armored vehicles, tanks, infantry and special forces, marched in front of Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the President of the Hellenic Republic.
Formations of Hellenic Air Force fighters flew over the city, offering an amazing spectacle.
For the first time in history, Greece’s rebuilt Spitfire MJ755 fighter flew in formation with a modern F-16 fighter from the 335 Tiger Squadron — the oldest PA Squadron formed when Greece was under German occupation in October 1941 at Akir Airport in Palestine. The two fighters performed a joint maneuver in the introductory moments of the military parade.
Due to the aggravated epidemiological situation of the city, this year’s parade lasted just 60 minutes while the use of masks was mandatory for everyone.
Earlier, a wreath was laid at the premises of the Army Corps of Thessaloniki by Sakellaropoulou and a minute of silence was observed.
A spike in coronavirus cases and deaths led to the cancellation of annual parades in many parts of the country, mainly in Northern Greece and Thessaly.
Student parade in Athens
The Interior Ministry on Monday announced that the student parade scheduled for Wednesday in Thessaloniki was cancelled as it coincided with the day of mourning called for after the death of Movement for Change (KINAL) party leader Fofi Gennimata.
However, high school students from Athens schools marched in Athens to commemorate the day.
School students and other youth associations marched through central Athens past the Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma, dressed in their school uniforms as well as traditional dress.
The national holiday of October 28 “commemorates those who fought against fascism and occupiers,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, following the student parade he personally observed at Paleo Faliro, a coastal suburb of Athens.
This year’s anniversary of OXI Day (1940) coincides with Greece’s bicentennial of the start of the War for Independence (1821), he noted, and “today we have the right to look at the future with greater self-confidence and more optimism.”
Mitsotakis added that “Greece today is stronger. It’s geopolitially stronger, with updated Armed Forces, international alliances, and it is a country that extends a hand in friendship to all, yet is determined to defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights. Greece is financially stronger today, with growth for all, investments that create new jobs, and reduced taxes that improve all Greeks’ available income.”
The Italian offensive against Greece began at 5:30 in the morning of October 28, 1940 in the mountains of the Epirus, Pindos and Kalpaki regions, which form the natural border between Greece and Albania.
The bravery and dedication of the outnumbered Greek Army was such that within three weeks, Greece had pushed back the invading forces, much to the surprise of Mussolini and the Italian generals. Then the Greek Army began a counterattack, driving the Italians deep into Italian-held Albania.
Mussolini was humiliated and enraged. Hitler was also furious at the failure of the Italian troops, blaming Mussolini not only for his incapability to take over Greece, but also for his promise that he would deliver the country to him.