Friday, April 15, 2011
Greece: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Changing of the Guard
We witnessed the Changing of the Guard in front of the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Guard is called the Evzones, after an elite band of mountain guerillas who fought bravely against the Turk. The uniform is calculated to strike fear in the hearts of the enemy, especially when they learn that each one of the five hundred pleats in those kilts must be handpressed by the guardsmen themselves. Also terrifying are the long black tassels hanging from those red caps. And who could behold the pom-poms on the toes of the shoes without a shudder? It is no wonder that in all their long history the Greeks have never once been conquered except by the Persians, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Venetians, the Italians, and the Germans. Their march is something like a stately goose-step correographed by John Cleese. The guards are very serious about their business and are not the least bit mortified to appear this way in public no matter what you might think. All young men must serve nine months in the Greek military and these were selected by exacting standards: they have to be at least 1.86 meters tall.