Honoring the 100Th Anniversary of the Unification of the Island of Crete With the Hellenic Republicby Representative Gus M. Bilirakis
Posted on 2013-12-11
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the unification of the Island of Crete with the Hellenic
Republic. On December 1, 1913, the flag of Greece was raised proudly on
the Island, recognizing the will of the people of Crete who declared
their unification with Greece, breaking ties with the oppressive
Ottoman Empire which had occupied the island since 1669.
Sitting at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, is matched by its oversized influence throughout world history. Crete was home to the Minoan civilization, a major center for the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman empires, and birthplace to some of the world's most renowned artists--like Nobel laureate Odysseus Elytis and composer, Mikis Theodorakis.
[[Page E1838]] During their struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, the people of Crete endured political oppression and unspeakable atrocities, but they never stopped living their lives under the creed ``Elefteria I Thanatos'' ``Freedom or Death.'' Since rejoining with Greece, Crete has remained a pillar of the fight against tyranny and oppressive regimes. Nowhere was this exhibited more than during the Battle of Crete, when Cretans stood alongside Allied troops and fought off German paratroopers. And--like Crete itself--the Battle had an oversized influence on the outcome of World War II. The damage the Cretans and their Western allies inflicted on the German air force and paratrooper corps prevented Nazi Germany from carrying out another airborne invasion for the remainder of World War II.
For over 267 years, the people of Crete fought a brave battle to rejoin their Greek motherland and I stand here today to recognize their sacrifices and honor their memories.