Greek Independence Day is especially meaningful in Crete. For more than a decade the Cretan insurgency battled against great odds to free their island. The Ottoman Empire did not want to relinquish this jewel in the Aegean Sea.
The support from western European powers ebbed more often than flowed due to European goals having little to do with the Cretan situation.
Here's a poem for a young warrior I share in honor of the memory of those that battled for the right to live with their own rules in their homes and communities.
ELEGY ON THE TOMB OF A YOUNG WARRIOR
POEM written by Nikiphoros Vrettakos
Translated by Kimon Friar
On this ground we say our name.
On this your ground we draw the plans for our gardens and our cities.
On this your ground. We Are. We have a country.
I have kept your bullet-shot within me.
Within me wanders the poisonous burst of the machine gun.
When I remember your exploding heart,
Certain hundred-petaled roses rise in my brain
and resemble the conversation of the infinite with man.
Thus did your heart speak to us.
And we saw that the world is greater
And has become greater that it might contain love.
Your first toy: You
Your first pony: You
You played fire. You played Christ.
You played Saint George and the bold Border Guard.
You played the clock hands that descend from midnight down.
You played the voice of hope when no voice existed.
The Square was deserted. Our country had gone.
It was time! Your heart could no longer endure
to hear under your roof the human thunderbolts of Europe.
Under your coat you lit the first thief's lantern.
Hearts of hearts! You thought of the sun, and advanced . . .
You mounted the pavement and played Man.
Modern Greek Poetry
Including George Seferis, Nobel Prize 1963
Odysseus Elytis, Nobel Prize 1979
Translation, introduction, commentaries and notes by Kimon Friar
Elegy on the Tomb of a Young Warrior found on pages 273 and 274.
Efstathiadis Group (2005) Athens