Greece marks national “Ochi Day”

Greece celebrated its national “Ochi Day” (No Day) on Monday with military and pupils’ parades across the country, sending a message of hard work for a better future.

“Ochi” is the response given on Oct. 28, 1940, by the then head of the Greek government to Italy’s ultimatum to surrender the country to the Axis forces. It marked Greece’s entry in World War Two.

“Greeks’ ‘No’ was a great act of resistance in modern history against fascism, defending peace, democracy and the human being,” Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said after observing the military parade in the northern city of Thessaloniki, according to an e-mailed press statement from his office.

After a decade of crisis, Greeks face the future with more optimism and confidence, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said from Crete island.

“We honor those who fought and sacrificed their lives for freedom, democracy, human dignity against fascism and Nazism. Let’s say our own ‘No’, but also our own ‘Yes’ to unity, humanism, values, vision,” Education Minister Niki Kerameus said after observing the students’ parade in front of parliament in central Athens.

“Let’s all follow in their footsteps. Obviously, we still need to work hard to rebuild Greece as she deserves to be,” said Giorgos Patoulis, regional governor of Attica, as the crowds waved Greek flags.

City of Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis focused on the youth, also calling for stronger efforts by all to build a healthy economy after a decade of harsh financial crisis.

“They do not only own the past, but the future as well. These young people deserve the best. We should all fulfill our duties,” he said.

Ordinary citizens who attended the parade expressed their determination to continue with everyday battles to heal the wounds the country has had to suffer in recent years.

“We should say ‘No’ to many things, to austerity measures and to much more Greeks are suffering from,” Dimitris told Xinhua.