The exit of fighters and families from Missolonghi after a year-long siege by Ottoman and Egyptian forces "was not a defeat, it was a momement of breakout and courage of the highest order," Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Orthodox Palm Sunday.
Commemorated nearly 200 years later, the event that led to the deaths and enslavement of survivors in the southwest Central Greek city in 1826, "left a great legacy calling on us to build a future worthy of them," the president said after she attended a memorial service and lay a wreath at the Tomb of Heroes in the city.
"Greatly moved and respectful, we are honoring today those who sacrificed their lives for love of life, not wanting to abase it by becoming enslaved," Sakellaropoulou noted.
The Greek president is also expected to pay a visit to the city's History and Art Museum, where she will meet with Missolonghi mayor Kostas Lyros.
Exodus of Missolonghi
The Exodus of Mesolongi, in Greece: The Exodus of Mesolongi is one of the most important historical events of the Greek War of Independence. It took place in April 1826.
The fighting over the Turks had started a few years ago and the Greeks were trying to gain their freedom. The residents of Mesolongi, along with other Greek cities, had also rebelled, killed their Turkish governors and set their city free. Trying to gain the city back, the Sultan sent an army to suppress the revolution.
His first attempt in 1822 failed and in 1825 he sent an even stronger army. The residents of Mesolongi, from inside the walls, fought the Turkish army with courage but the siege lasted for a whole year. The Turks had circled the area and the Greeks could not get food supplies. People started dying from famine and diseases and the other Greeks were unable to help them.
In the end, the exhausted residents of Mesolongi decided to secretly exit their city on the night of April, 10th, 1826, cross the Turkish camp and hide in the mountains and the close by villages. However, their plan was betrayed to the enemy and when the Greeks opened the gates in the middle of the night, the Turks attacked them and killed all women and children and most of the soldiers. Only 1,300 men finally managed to save their lives.
The Exodus is considered to be a great act of courage and it is celebrated every year in Mesolongi the Sunday before Easter, as an annual anniversary of this heroic act. This day, a parade starts from the center of the town and ends in the Garden of Heroes, followed by a memorial to the heroes of the Greek Revolution.