It seems that anniversary celebrations of the national uprising of 1821 in our country have always been unlucky. There was one exception: the 50th anniversary, which was celebrated during the fourth inaugural term of the Maniot prime minister Alexandros Koumoundouros, and which brought not only strong emotions, but also substantial national achievements inspired by the Greek Revolution. All subsequent anniversaries were met with obstacles in achieving their goals of restoring historical memory and shaping future prospects through planned celebratory events. The 100th anniversary coincided with the unlucky outcome of the Greek Army campaign in Asia Minor and, as a result, the celebrations were postponed for 10 years, only to coincide again with the impact of the American financial crisis of 1929 on Europe and Greece. The 150th anniversary, on the other hand, coincided with the first four years of the dictatorship (imposed in 1967), a period when the messages of liberation were inconsistent with the prevailing political situation. More misfortunes apply to the present 200th anniversary: the pandemic, the immigration crisis and the rampant wildfires. Nevertheless, because historical memory is not promoted only through representation of events in the places where they took place in 1821, but through reflection on situations of that period, the1821 uprising continues to inspire and teach…

            The cohesive factor of all the individual societal groups that participated in the preparation of the uprising of 1821 and in the actual war, both in the fields of battle with the Ottomans but also in the subsequent diplomatic arena, was the assurance of free life in a nation state that would guarantee the security of all its citizens. Papaflessas, the hero who set all Greek hearts on fire,  managed to use this factor with ingenuity and courage to light the wick of the uprising and to push the revolutionary events on an irreversible path. The social groups that eventually took part in the Revolution differed both in their wealth and in their views on the political system that should be implemented in the new nation state. The economically powerful wanted to retain most of their privileges, the expatriates who belonged to the upper echelons of the Ottoman administration of Istanbul wanted to be the backbone of the political governance of the emerging state, the leaders of the military groups wanted to control and direct the government. The ordinary citizens, city professionals, and landowners sought to get rid of the heavy taxes that were forcing them to lose their jobs and property. If we add to all this the linguistic pluralism and the significant differentiation in the prevailing customs and traditions of the individual regions, the homogenisation on a common basis of a single nation state was a difficult task and it took time to complete. Significant progress in this direction was achieved during the four-year rule of Ioannis Kapodistrias, who with patience and diplomacy, managed to soften the aspirations of individual societal groups by undertaking policies that raised the living standards of ordinary citizens. To a significant degree, this policy was continued by King Otto’s Regents during the three-year term of office that had been assigned to them. However, in the following decades, the standardisation process lost momentum and, in combination with international developments, found new obstacles on the path to full integration, which remain until today.

            We, the descendants of the 1821 heroes, upon reflecting, 200 years later, on their sacrifices that led to the stable state we live in, have an obligation to redouble our efforts in order to shape our country as coherently as possible towards a future that is, unfortunately, predicted to be increasingly uncertain. We need to honour those politicians who, either by exploiting international circumstances and forming beneficial alliances, or by inspiring the armed forces in times of war, have succeeded in enlarging small Greece, a state which was first formed in 1832, in both population and territory. At the same time, however, we also have an obligation to remember the causes that led to national tragedies and disasters. The disagreements, which from time to time appeared in a heightened form, were not ideological confrontations, but were based on the gaps in the formation of a standardised perception of the citizens about the path towards the future of our country. These gaps, to some extent, still exist. It seems that the gaps in the path to standardisation do not arise from social controversies, but are mainly due to different perceptions and therefore can be addressed, both on a political and on an individual level, through dialogue and good faith. If we continue towards filling the gaps of standardisation, it is certain that the messages of 1821, on the occasion of the 200-year anniversary celebrations, will have been successfully transferred to the present period, as the protagonists of 1821, and especially the most fervent of them all, Papaflessas, would have liked.