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#8

THE WALKERS

Syntagma guards: Do not touch!

You can try to talk to them; they will not respond. You can try to have a staring contest; you will lose. Even better, try to scare them; there’s no way, like marble statues, they stand. 

They are not just here for the tourists in Syntagma Square; they will not yield to your demands. They have their orders. They are here to guard our heroes. 

They are fearless, silent walkers; the Evzones, the Presidential Guard. They march the same steps, every day, every hour, like the steady beat of a metronome... They march the same route, from the Guard Barracks to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament, and back. They stand motionless, their posture straight, their gaze fixed. For they are here to honor the warriors of the past, to guard the famous unknown soldiers who have fallen, for a new generation to rise.. 

But all you can see, you say, is men in kilt-like skirts and funny shoes. Listen to the march; it may say a thing or two.

One-two, the skirt’s 400 pleats symbolize 400 years of slavery in remembrance of our Turkish-occupied past. Three-four, the shoes are called tsarouhia, whose furry pompoms camouflage the sharp, lethal blades beneath. One-two, the shirt is airy to portray the freedom unknown soldiers died for. Three-four, the blue and white fringes reflect the Greek flag, a symbol people lost their life for.

No war today, you may say. What’s there to guard? They will not reply. The answer is in their silence: To have a future, one must honor the past. Every day.  Every hour. Like a steady beat in the heart of the city. 


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