Her name became a symbol. A reference point of bravery and patriotism. A woman although with a face wrinkled by adversity, with a body wrinkled by the salt of the sea and hardships, but with a crystal clear look with a pure heart, with a soul that overflowed in the waves around her little island.
The reason for the lady of Ro, or Despina Achladiotis as she is known, who raised the Greek flag every day for 34 (according to others for 40) years, a breath of fresh air from the Turkish coast.
Mrs. Roe, or Despina Achladiotis according to the world, every day for 34 (according to others for 40) years the Greek flag was raised a breath from the Turkish shores. In a barren, inhospitable place, where only a little grass grew in the soil. On a small rock island that was her home, the edge of the homeland she adored.
I stayed alone in 1943 in Kastellorizo with my blind mother, when all the inhabitants of the island left for the Middle East and Cyprus. With the Greek flag raised and the love for Greece deeply rooted in me, I went through all the hardships.
Rho is 4 miles west from Kastellorizo and at a distance of 12 miles from the Turkish coast. It is also called Agios Georgios, or ancient Rogi or Ropi. Despina Achladiotis decided to stay with her husband there in 1924, she was then only 25 years old.
Kastelorizo and the surrounding islands were filled with refugees. Few families lived in Ro at that time. A barren place, it wasn’t for everyone. Despina and her husband did not hesitate.
Accompanied by a few animals to cover their needs, they took what possessions they had and settled in Rho.
The first time Despina Achladiotou raised the flag was in 1927, when she woke up one morning and saw the Turkish flag flying on top of the island. She went to the house, opened the chest, took a white sheet and a blue curtain and sewed the blue and white one. She took down the Turkish flag with her husband, placing the new flag in its place.
A few years later the permanent inhabitants of the island left to seek a better fate for themselves and their children. But Despina and Kostas stayed. Almost all alone.
Until in 1940 Kostas Achladiotis became seriously ill. Prostrate and completely weak, he had to be transferred to Kastellorizo. So Despina lit a fire to alert the fishermen in the boats for help.
They were too late to see her though. And the fire and Despina. Her husband died on the way to the island where the doctors would save his life. And Despina buried him alone. And she cried for him alone.
Tin 1943 he returned to Rome from Kastellorizo where she stayed for a while, taking her blind mother with her. Two women alone in possession. It was then that he started raising the Greek flag every morning and lowering it at night. From Rho he offered services to soldiers of the Holy Company. With a “loud voice and a quick walk”, as her biographer Kyriakos Chondros describes her, she never left the island, even when Kastellorizo, which was bombed by the Germans after the capitulation of Italy in 1943, was almost deserted by its inhabitants. , most of whom were forced to the path of refugee.
“I love the islands of Kastellorizos and Ro. / I stayed alone in 1943 in Kastellorizo with my blind mother, when all the inhabitants of the island left for the Middle East and Cyprus. With the Greek flag raised and the love for Greece deeply rooted in me, I went through all the hardships… …of course life in Ro is not that pleasant, but you feel more of Greece, lost as you are in the sea, a few hundred meters from the Turkish coasts. / I want the Greek Flag to be placed with me in the Grave.” she had said herself.
After the events of 1974where Turks secretly placed their flag, the woman and her island became known everywhere.
he wished from the Academy of Athens (1975), the Navy, the Hellenic Parliament, the Municipality of Rhodes, the National Bank of Greece and other bodies. The Ministry of National Defense sent a naval squadron and a delegation of the GEN to Kastellorizo where, on November 23, 1975, they awarded her the medal for the war period 1941-1944 for her “offered national services”, as stated in the decision of the Minister of Defense.
He passed away at the age of 92in a hospital in Rhodes, on May 13, 1982. Her body was taken to Rhodes and buried under the mast where she raised the flag.
The tomb of Our Lady of Ro next to the flagpole.
Source: διαφορετικό by www.diaforetiko.gr.
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