(1890 – 1982)
Every day at sunrise, Despina Achladiotou raised the Greek flag in the island of Rho and then took it down at night. She did this for 40 years. With this act, she spread the message that Rho was part of Greece and that nobody would violate its sacred ground. She became known as the Lady of Rho.
In 1924, she, her husband and her blind mother inhabited the small island at the southern coast of Turkey. When all the other inhabitants left the island, Despina and her husband faced challenges from the Turks, who wanted the island for themselves. In 1929, the Turks invaded the island and hoisted the Turkish flag. As soon as she saw the Turkish flag, Despina took it down, sew a Greek flag from white and blue fabric she carried and hoisted it in its place.
During World War II, Despina Achladiotou went to Kastellorizo to work in one of the bases of the Allies by helping out the soldiers. When the Allies ordered the evacuation of Kastellorizo, everybody fled from the island to Cyprus and Egypt. Despina Achladiotou was the only one to remain in the island and in spite of the Germans’ bombardments, continued to raise the Greek flag every day.
Despina Achladiotou stood as the protector of both islands Rho and Kastellorizo. In her brief absences, the Turks would find the chance to invade the island and raise the Turkish flag. When she returned, she removed it and placed the Greek flag once again. In 1974, when such an event occurred, the Greek navy arrived at the island to award her for her valor, her acts of patriotism and services to the nation. She received numerous decorations from the state thereafter, including from the Academy of Athens and the Greek Parliament.
Despina Achladiotou died in 1982, at the age of 92. Her final wish was to be buried at the island of Rho, right next to the pole she used to raise the flag every morning for almost half a century. History wrote her down as the Lady of Rho, the woman who ensured that the two islands always remained part of Greece and withstood every hardship to achieve it.
- Σαν σήμερα “έφυγε” η κυρά της Ρω, Δέσποινα Αχλαδιώτη, που επί μισό αιώνα σήκωνε την Ελληνική Σημαία απέναντι από τους τούρκους. Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος Χρυσή Αυγή. Xryshaygh.com. May 13, 2017. Web.
- «Πέρασα κακουχίες, αλλά εδώ νιώθεις πιο πολύ την Ελλάδα, χαμένος στο πέλαγος». Η κυρά της Ρω, η νησιώτισσα που ύψωνε την ελληνική σημαία για 40 χρόνια στο ερημονήσι του Αιγαίου. Μηχανή του Χρόνου. Mixanitouxronou.gr. Web.