The First Four Years of Oxi!
How The People Behind The Washington Oxi Day Foundation Have Enabled Profound Information About Greece To Become Known By American And World Opinion Leaders
When the people behind the Washington Oxi Day Foundation launched it in spring 2011, their mission was simple: Educate policymakers and the public about Greece’s little-known, but profound impact on the outcome of World War II and unequaled conduct during the Holocaust.
For four years, the Foundation has done just that; with great success. After definitively documenting from indisputable sources Greece’s profound role in WWII and the Holocaust, the Foundation communicated that information widely. Below is a report on the major activities undertaken by the Foundation during its first four years of existence.
Creation of the Annual Washington Oxi Day Celebration
Each year, the Foundation carries out its signature event – the Annual Washington Oxi Day Celebration. This event brings together senior US policymakers and other international opinion leaders and influential Washingtonians, along with prominent Greek-American leaders, to: (1) commemorate the day Greece refused to surrender, and proceeded to inflict a fatal wound that brought down the Axis Forces in WWII, (2) celebrate modern heroes of freedom and democracy who today display the “Oxi Day Spirit” for freedom and democracy; and (3) improve the perception of Greece today.
This celebration, which spans two days and annually attracts over 400 participants, features the following major events:
Black Tie Dinner and Presentation of Oxi Day Awards
Includes presentation of Oxi Day Award and Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award with $5,000 cash prizes, honoring a man and women who today take courageous action to promote or protect freedom and democracy. Honorees have included Nobel Laureate and Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi (in 2011) and blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (in 2012).
Presentation of the Greatest Generation Awards at the National WWII Memorial
Ceremony at WWII Memorial where the Greatest Generation Awards are presented to a Greek, a Greek-American and an American World War II veteran, celebrating their heroism. Honorees have included former Senator and Presidential nominee Bob Dole (in 2011).
Ceremony with Jewish Community and Presentation of Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award
Ceremony with Jewish community leaders at which the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award is presented to an individual who takes courageous action against anti-Semitism or discrimination. Honorees have included Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel (in 2012).
Keynote Lecture with Scholar
Presentation by a noted professor on the topic of Greece’s impact on the outcome of WWII.
Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery
A moving ceremony at which an “Oxi Day” wreath is laid at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of those who died in World War II.
Educating National and International Policymakers and Opinion Leaders
Through the Annual Celebration
The Foundation has engaged in the process of telling the Oxi Day story hundreds of national and international policymakers and opinion leaders through its annual celebration. Noted individuals who have been involved in this annual event include:
- Vice President Joe Biden
- Nobel Laureate and Burmese activist Aung San Sui Kyi [2011 Battle of Crete Award recipient]
- Nobel Laureate & Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel [2012 Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award Recipient]
- Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng [2012 Oxi Day Award]
- TV anchor Chris Matthews
- Former Senator and Presidential nominee Bob Dole [2011 Greatest Generation Award recipient]
- First U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
- U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer
- Pakistani Women’s Rights activist Dr. Fouzia Saeed [2012 Battle of Crete Award recipient]
- President of the National Endowment for Democracy Carl Gershman
- Jamel Battaeib, leader in Tunisian Revolution that sparked Arab Spring [2011 Oxi Day Award Recipient]
- House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
- Assistant Secretary of Defense Zachary Lemnios
- Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, HE Archbishop Demetrios
- Foreign Minister of Greece Stavros Lambrinidis
- Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Joan Mooney
- Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus
- American Jewish Committee’s Director of Government and International Affairs, Jason Isaacson
- Numerous ambassadors & officials from other nations
- Dozens of Members of Congress
- Numerous administration officials
- Heads of several of America’s top think tanks and human rights organizations
- Senior executives and reporters from CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC, Voice of America, Washington Times
- Numerous former ambassadors, administration officials and Members of Congress
Through the Award Nomination Process
Over 300 policymakers and opinion leaders are invited each year to nominate individuals for the Foundations awards and $5,000 prizes. Through this process they learn about Oxi Day and Greece’s role in inflicting a fatal wound that brought down the Axis Forces. Those invited to nominate included Members of Congress and Senators, White House and State Department officials, researchers at think tanks and universities, Jewish community leaders, heads of major nonprofit human rights and democracy organizations and members of the media.
Through Direct Communications
The Foundation shares information about Oxi Day with hundreds of policymakers and influential opinion leaders through press releases and updates on foundation activities, which it sends out each month via direct email.
Through the Oxi Day Scholarship Contest
In October 2012, the Foundation hosted its first annual Oxi Day Scholarship Contest at St. Albans School in Washington, DC, where the students include the children and grandchildren of significant U.S. policymakers and Ambassadors, including the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Vice President’s Chief of Staff, Chairman of a House Subcommittee and a former US Senator, to name a few. An article about the contest and Oxi Day appeared in the school newspaper, which is read by students, parents and alumni.
Sharing the Oxi Day Story with the Next Generation
Through the Production and Distribution of Education DVD to Greek Orthodox Churches
The Foundation produced an 18-minute video called The Story of Oxi Day, which tells the story of Greece’s actions in WWII and features His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios recalling his experience as a boy living in Greece during the war. This video, and accompanying materials, were distributed to over 450 Greek Orthodox churches across the country for use in their youth programming. The Foundation received numerous thank you notes from priests who used the DVDs and requests for additional copies.
Through the Creation of the Oxi Day Scholarship Contest
As mentioned earlier, the Foundation reached hundreds of young people through its Oxi Day Scholarship Contest at St. Albans School. Students were asked to write an essay on what actions of the modern era they believe best parallel the “David vs. Goliath” courage that the Greek people showed for freedom and democracy in WWII. The winning student received a $1,000 scholarship from the Foundation.
Creating an Oxi Day Online Presence
Creating OxiDayFoundation.org – A website for all things Oxi!
In 2011, the Foundation launched its website www.OxiDayFoundation.org, which features fact sheets and educational materials about Greece’s impact on World War II, 5-minute videos which the Foundation produced on the history of Oxi Day and the WWII Battle of Crete and its Hall of Heroes, which includes profiles of Greek and Greek-American WWII veterans submitted by the public. The site is a great source for those seeking information on Oxi Day and has become the second entry (after Wikipedia) when you Google “Oxi”.
Using Social Media to Share the Oxi Day Story
The Foundation has reached tens of thousands of additional people through its Facebook page, where it routinely shares historical information about Greece in WWII with its followers, who in turn share that information with their friends. According to Facebook’s reporting system, some of our posts have been shared by over two hundred users and as a result were seen by over 25,000 people.
Creating an Oxi Day Presence on Other Content Communities
In addition to hosting its website and Facebook page, the Foundation has a YouTube account, where its videos have collectively received over 10,000 views and a Flickr account where it hosts its photographs and images. In both cases, the Foundation has made available this content to the public and encourages others to use and share its materials in an effort to spread further the Oxi Day story.
Sharing the Oxi Day Story with the Public via Media Outreach
Through the International Media
The Foundation has shared the Oxi Day story with hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world through coverage of its activities and award recipients in multiple international publications and websites including: Voice of America; Radio Free Asia; Chinese dissident websites including ChinaAid and Jasmine Revolution; and multiple Pakistani publications including the Associated Press of Pakistan.
Through the Greek-American Media
The Foundation has reached hundreds of thousands of Greek-American individuals through coverage of its annual celebration and activities in the Greek-American publications. The Foundation invites the Greek-American media to participate in its events and routinely updates them on its activities.
Collaborating with Jewish Community, Women’s Groups, Human Rights/Democracy Groups and Military Organizations
- In an effort to make members of the Jewish community more aware of Greece’s efforts to denounce and prevent the deportation of Greek Jews during the Holocaust, the Foundation involves Jewish community leaders in its annual ceremony and presentation of the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award. Jewish community organizations that have sent senior representatives to participate include The American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).
- Nearly one hundred Jewish community leaders and heads of Jewish organizations across the country learn more about the subject through being invited to nominate individuals for this Award.
- Over 100 female leaders and heads of women’s rights groups are invited to nominate individuals for the Battle of Crete Award and through this learn about the role Greek women played in this World War II battle.
- The Foundation also reached out to dozens of Women’s Studies Programs and women’s military programs to share with them our Battle of Crete video and materials for them to use in their own programs
Human Rights/Democracy Organizations
- Nearly one hundred heads of democracy/human rights groups, researchers at think tanks and leaders in the field are invited to nominate individuals for the Oxi Day Award and Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award, and through the process learn about Oxi Day. Several have also participated in the Foundation’s annual celebration.
- Several commanders and students from DC area ROTC groups participate each year in our ceremony at the WWII Memorial and black tie banquet, and through this learn how Greece inflicted the fatal wound that lead to the defeat of the Axis Forces.
- Members of the Armed Services Band and Color Guard participate in our Black Tie Banquet.
- In 2011, the Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery participated in the Oxi Wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and learned about Oxi Day.
- In an effort to honor veterans and foster relationships with that community, the Foundation made donations to TAPS and Honor Flight, which work with military veterans.
Strengthening Relations with Community of Greek and Greek-American Organizations
Although our Foundation may lead the effort, we believe the story of Oxi Day belongs to all those of Greek heritage and everyone should be invited to be part of sharing it. We’re stronger when we work together. That’s why we have made a concerted effort to involve in our celebration other Hellenic Organizations including: the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, AHEPA, the American Hellenic Institute, the American Hellenic Council of California, the Hellenic American Leadership Council, the Hellenic American Women’s Council, the Pan-Cretan Association of America, the Pan-Cyprian Association of America, as well as the Greek and Cypriot Ambassadors to the U.S. and their Embassies.
May 4, 2015