Hero of the Macedonian Struggle (1870 – 1904)
Pavlos Melas was a Captain of the Greek Army who became the symbol for the Macedonian Struggle after sacrificing himself for Macedonia. He is one of the most celebrated heroes in modern Greek history and his influence holds strong to this day in the hearts of the Greeks.
Descending from a wealthy and historical family, Pavlos Melas rejected the luxuries and convenience offered by his high status, choosing instead a life of suffering and hardships, travelling to Macedonia to organize the freedom fighters and liberate Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire.
Pavlos Melas was a patriot. He graduated from the Evelpidon Military Academy and participated in numerous military campaigns for the liberation of the subjugated Greek lands, including the Graeco-Turkish war of 1894. A restless spirit, he was always concerned about the struggles of the unredeemed Greeks and more about Athens’ disregard on their efforts for liberation.
In 1904, driven purely by his love and sense of duty towards Greece, Pavlos Melas left Athens and travelled in secrecy to Macedonia, where he organized the Greek military forces, mobilizing men from the neighbouring villages in an attempt for immediate action in Macedonia. His plans, however, were thwarted early in the course of the operation, when during a clash with the Bulgarian militias, Pavlos Melas was shot and killed.
The death of Pavlos Melas shocked Greece. His sacrifice sparked the patriotic element of the Greeks, causing a massive number of volunteers to follow his example and flood Macedonia, fighting by the side of the Macedonian freedom fighters. The apogee of these enormous efforts was the victories of the Balkan Wars in 1912-1913.
Pavlos Melas became an immortal paradigm of the Macedonian Struggle, a man determined to sacrifice everything in order to wake up the Greeks. The fact that he was only one to leave his life behind and go to Macedonia to face an outnumbered enemy was of no concern to him, rather, to act obedient to his laws and become the example that others would follow. His heroism was sung by many, including intellectuals such as Kostis Palamas. To this day his soul resonates with the hearts of all the Greeks who defend Macedonia, yelling to the enemy across time “Famous Macedonia, the land of Alexander”!