Annual Memorial Service

Today the cultural association of Kritsa held the annual memorial service to remember all the brave rebels who fought against Ottoman oppression.

One thing I love about the village is the way that the younger generation embrace their heritage and culture. Perhaps the number of young volunteers willing to participate in the service as flag bearers,  wreath layers and speach makers was enhanced by the fact that the excited children rode up to Lato on the land train.  We were behind it all the way, and the excited grins and waves from the children made it a fun drive.

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The mid morning event was in front of the wonderful sculpture dedicated to Rodanthe, the legendary female rebel now known by the honorific title, Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa. The amazing relief, created by the British sculptor and Kritsa resident, Nigel Ratcliff, is located at the site of the most famous two-day battle, just 3k from the village, near Lato archeoleogical remains.

1-DSC05986In the UK a planned road block would be signposted for at least a month prior to the event, and then the physical block would be robust and impossible to ignore. Things are more laid back here, so one direction was blocked by a motorcycle, while rows of chairs blocked the road in front of the memorial.

2-DSC05980As the mid morning sun was getting hot these chairs remained empty, and like many other people we took some spare chairs into the shade of olive trees.

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When the Papas’ lined up with the flag bearing children behind them, I took a seat in the middle, to participate fully. From this vantage point it certainly proved a more moving experience than when I’d previously watched from the sidelines.

6-DSC05992The event started with prayers, then the Greek flag rose while the national anthem played. After a retelling of the legend, including the part played by Rodanthe, a range of local service and culteral representatives laid wreaths. I’ll cheerfully admit to an audible, ‘Ah!’ when a very young pair undertook the important task of wreath laying.

5-DSC05990That’s me in the green dress, and as you can tell by my squinting into the camera, I should have worn my sunglasses! The very cool looking chap is none other than Nigel, the memorial’s sculptor.

7-DSC06000 Seemingly impromptu, some of the monument’s guard of honor broke into dance.

Leaving the Kritsotopoula monument all alone, but very loved.

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9-DSC06002After tasty refreshments courtesy of the culteral association we drove back to Kritsa amidst a snaking cavalcade, and I’m pleased with this final snap taken randomly by lifting the camera out of the car windows in the hope that I’d ‘catch’ this snap.

A few days later, a friend sent me a link to a local newspaper report of the event. if you use Google as your browser it should translate automatically. The video clip takes you to youtube. http://tinyurl.com/oojstyh 

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