Two days after German forces invaded Athens, an American newspaper editorial praised the people of Greece not only for their wartime bravery but for upholding their “honor” in face of death.
On April 29, 1941, The Atlanta Constitution published the headline “A Gift Beyond Compare,” referring to the “gift” that the Greeks presented to the war-stricken world.
The “gift,” as the newspaper described it, was that Greece demonstrated to the world that “men still die for freedom,” choosing death before dishonor.
The praise came at a time when Axis forces had occupied nearly the entire European continent. Led by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, the Germans used the offensive method of “blitzkrieg,” or “lightning war,” to quickly force adversaries into surrender.
With U.S. involvement in World War II still months away — in December of 1941 — hope seemed to be quickly fading for Allied forces, particularly Great Britain.
Even though Greece had all but fallen, the Atlanta Constitution found a glimmer of hope in the Greek people and their defiance against Nazism.
The full text of the editorial follows below.
Atlanta Constitution Editorial
“A Gift Beyond Compare”
The Greeks came bearing a gift. A priceless gift which we need not beware, for it is beyond compare. While we debate in fear and waver in useless longing for peace, the Greeks have shown the world that men still die for freedom, for a cause, against hopeless odds knowing that death is inevitable yet preferring it, as Socrates accepted it, before dishonor.
It seems strange in this modern, cynical world of ours to hear of men dying for honor and glory. You have heard of men preferring to be live cowards than dead heroes— it is symptomatic of our civilization.
The Greeks of a more remote heritage without material wealth have proved richer than we thought, for they have kept alive the sacred fire that through the years has burned its beacon for the wayfarer who sought freedom and dignity. It is hard to die with dignity. But the Greeks have… The heroes may be dead, but in their brief moment they lived as only men can live and die— with honor.
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