Evzones, soldiers of the Greek Presidential Guard, will take part in the Greek National Day commemoration in Victoria next March
Premier Andrew’s government plans to make the celebration of 25th March 2018 a day to remember for Greek Australians as it has been confirmed that Andrew’s administration will present the Greek National Day Commemorative Committee with $30,000 so that Evzones, soldiers of the Greek Presidential Guard, can go to Australia and take part in the Greek National Day commemoration in Victoria next March.
As Minister Mikakos told Neos Kosmos, the Evzones’ presence will make a significant celebration even more special for the Greek Community, adding that their government is pleased to be able to support this important visit.
Nine Evzones were sent to Australia in 2017 to honour the anniversary of Anzac Day and the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, which was also a way to celebrate the strong bonds between Greece and Australia. Their official visit was met with enthusiasm and overwhelming emotion by the Greek Community down under.
The Evzones or Evzonoi was the name used for some historical elite light infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Since 1868, the Evzones are a special ceremonial unit guarding the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma (Constitution) Square. They also constitute the Greek Presidential Guard outside the Presidential Palace, while they have the duty of raising and lowering the flag on top of the Acropolis rock every Sunday.
Although their role is clearly ceremonial, being an Evzone is no easy task. Regardless of unfavourable weather conditions or curious and sometimes aggressive passers-by, the Evzones are required to stay motionless and unflinching until they receive an order to stand down. This means standing completely still for more than 100 hours per month.
The ceremonial military unit guards go through a remarkably rigorous training as they have to be able to raise their legs at shoulder height when they march and remain motionless for a protracted period of time. All this is made even more trying if one takes into consideration their special uniform.
Evzones wear handmade uniforms including a white kilt whose 400 pleats symbolize the 400 years Greece remained under Ottoman occupation. Their shoes are red leather clogs weighing over seven pounds. For an Evzone to put on this elaborate uniform it is necessary that he be assisted by another fellow soldier.