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Despina Achladioti

Born: 1890

Died: 13 May 1982

Nationality: Greek

Despina Achladioti, known as the Lady of Ro, was a Greek patriot born on the island of Kastellórizo in 1890. Before the start of World War II, where her home island was repeatedly ravaged, Achladioti sailed with her husband and mother to the nearby deserted island of Ro where they lived off of a few goats, chickens and a vegetable garden. Her two companions died a few years after their arrival and Achladioti personally rowed her mother's remains back to Kastellórizo for burial. She has been compared to Joan d'Arc and Boudica.

Achladioti's most renowned deed is that every day she would fly a Greek flag over the island even though the island was not formally part of Greece (along with the rest of the Dodecanese, controlled by Italy) till 1948. This made her a Greek hero, especially when Greece nearly went to war with Turkey in the 1970s, because the flag would be easily visible from Turkish soil. She raised the flag every day, regardless of the weather, from the time she arrived on the island until her death on 13 May 1982 at the age of 92. Despite not having veteran status, she was buried on the island with full military honors.

A Greek military unit is now based on the island, with the main duty of keeping the tradition of raising the flag.

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