• Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki: "The heroes of the Arkadi Monastery proved with their sacrifice that they loved freedom more than their lives"
• Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki: "The heroes of our history should become heroes for our young people"
• Rethymno will celebrate the 200th anniversary of 1821 by uniting the past with the future, relating development with social awareness
"Many battles have been fought in this land through history. Many fights, many sacrifices, and much blood has been spilt for the unification of Crete with Greece. Here, in the Arkadi Monastery, in 1866, 964 people, men, women, children, first, they caused great damage to the Turkish army and then blew themselves up, proving that they loved freedom more than their lives. These values, such as love for freedom, we must emphasize at present. We must highlight all that connects us with 1821 and 1866". With these words, the President of the Committee "Greece 2021" Gianna Aggelopoulou-Daskalaki expressed her sentiment during the visit to the Monastery of Arkadi, the sacred symbol of the self-sacrifice of the Cretans in the name of freedom. A delegation from the Committee "Greece 2021" visited the site of the heroic Holocaust of 1866, which UNESCO has designated a European Freedom Monument. This pilgrimage took place in the context of the visit to the Municipality of Rethymno. The delegation also included the Members of the Assembly of the Committee, Professors Alexis Politis, and Nikos Kanellopoulos.
The heroes of our history should become heroes for our young people
"The sacrifice at Arkadi Monastery essentially changed the way the European forces regarded the Cretan struggle for freedom. Today, you are the keepers of the land, the guardians of this outstanding history", underlined the President of the Committee, addressing fathers Theologos, Parthenios and Eumenios, while standing in front of the century-old cypress in the Monastery's courtyard, in which an Ottoman bullet is still lodged. The Committee delegation was guided through the Monastery, which, as Father Theologos said, "conveyed the message of freedom all over the world, reaching as far as France and the great writer Victor Hugo". From the famous dining room where one can see the door torn down by the Turks when they forced their way into the Monastery, to the Monastery's museum and the powder keg, where men, women, and children sacrificed their lives.
"My father brought us here when we were young and showed us around," the President of the Committee said, adding: "What struck me the most and still touches me is not just the bullets in the cypress. It's that the Ottomans were trying with a force of 15,000 people to crush the far smaller number of Cretans. Examples like this should be told as stories to young children. To make them aware that the only heroes are not the ones they see in their comic books. We must not forget the heroes of our history; we must honor the example they have set." "Here in Arkadi, people became one fist. This holds great value for us because it shows us that the Greeks succeed when they love each other and are united," said Father Theologos.
Proposals that open a window into the future
The Committee delegation was welcomed in Rethymno by Mayor Giorgis Marinakis and officials of the Municipality at the Municipal Garden of Rethymno. During a meeting with the region's productive and scientific bodies in the House of Culture, the President of the Committee stressed that Crete is the timeless symbol of rebellion against any conqueror. She particularly emphasized the Municipality proposals for the 200th anniversary, which open a window into the future. It was noted that the proposals of the Municipality of Rethymno for the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution have a clear developmental orientation, by using new technologies to highlight the historical and cultural components of the city, but also a strong social awareness, since they include, among other things, a plan to complete a map of interventions that will make the Municipality a very friendly city for people with disabilities.
The Mayor of Rethymno, Mr. Marinakis, said: "About 100 years ago our compatriots fought to unite Crete with Greece. Our concern and our battle are to unite our island and our country with Europe and the entire civilized world. All the projects that are being completed in Rethymno aspire to cultivate a new people's mentality and especially a special relationship between man and the public space. The public space belongs to everyone and especially to those who do not have the ability to enjoy it like the rest of us." During the discussion, he also stressed that 2021 is an opportunity to restart the economy and society. That is precisely why the Municipality chose to submit proposals focusing on the Committee's pillar, window into the future. For his part, the President of the Chamber of Rethymnon Georgios Yiakoumakis mentioned that we need a national awakening, and the bicentennial is the right opportunity for it. Meanwhile, the Deputy-Dean of the Mediterranean University, Nektarios Papadogiannis, stressed that "as the newest University in the country, we participate in the projects because we are interested in the future".
A city looking to the future
The Committee delegation explored the old town of Rethymno and had the opportunity to see from up close a city that lives in the present but at the same time looks to the future. A city that adopts to digital technology, ensures the protection of the environment, has a deeply human and youth-friendly attitude, and targets at the same time projects with a developmental identity that will attract alternative and thematic tourism.
In more detail, the delegation visited the archaeological museum of the city, a "cultural gemstone", as described by the President of the Committee, inviting the directors to incorporate events for the anniversary of 1821 into the Committee's program and projects. Then, they visited the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rethymno, the Venetian harbor, and with the Mayor of the city boarded on the electric bus of the Municipality, the first electric car for public use that has been adopted into the public transportation program of the country. Finally, at the Rethymno Marina, the President and the Members of the Committee had a pleasant surprise. They were greeted by teenagers on skates, in a symbolic gesture of showing an alternative way of moving through the city without a car. In this context, the emphasis on environmental protection becomes a fundamental challenge we face as a society, 200 years after the declaration of the Revolution.
The Mayor of Rethymno, Giorgis Marinakis, holds the collectible medal, the "Precursor" of the Numismatics program of the Committee "Greece 2021"