On 25 March 2021, Greece celebrated the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The day marked the beginning of a successful fight for freedom fuelled by European enlightenment-inspired human values and political ideals. The Greek Revolution revived the promises of the French Revolution as it was a movement for human rights and liberty.
Countries around the EU and the rest of the world honored this important anniversary by sending messages of unification and admiration. The Greek flag was projected on Greek Embassies and emblematic buildings and places around the world.
Τhe capital of Europe, Brussels, honored Greek Independence Day as well by having its landmark Manneken Pis statue wearing a traditional Greek Evzones costume. The Vice-President of European Commission stated: ‘The capital of United Europe is now co-celebrating the bicentennial. Greece is a co-owner, a participant and a leader within European integration’.
This anniversary is an opportunity to for us all to reflect on the awareness raising and pan-European solidarity expressed at the time of the revolution, examples of which include the work of great French painter Eugène Delacroix, the bravery of Friedrich Thiersch’s German legion which fought side by side with the Greek revolutionaries and Lord’s Byron poems for Greece:
The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set...
The mountains look on Marathon--
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
A king sat on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
And men in nations--all were his!
He counted them at break of day--
And when the sun set, where were they?
And where are they? And where art thou?
My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now--
The heroic bosom beats no more!
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine?
'Tis something, in the dearth of fame,
Though linked among a fettered race,
To feel at least a patriot's shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush--for Greece a tear....
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
Our virgins dance beneath the shade--
I see their glorious black eyes shine;
But gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning teardrop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
There, swanlike, let me sing and die:
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine--
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!
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