Special Forces Memorial in Athens, Greece

Pictures and text by Afroditis Sotos

These photos were taken on the Kavouri Isthmus of Athens on 2 July 2008.

The constructed in 1967 memorial is dedicated to the soldiers of the Greek Armed Forces who gave their lives in support of Greek and Allied war efforts from 1942 to the present.

The monument is made of marble is located on the promontory of the Kavouri Isthmus and it still commands the approach to the City of Athens.

It has a strategic importance and it is often used as an observation point for the Greek security forces.

From the beach at the base of the hill of the monument you still see the continued significance of this location as numerous Greek warships are at anchor. As the Greek Navy stands watch at see the monument of the fallen clandestine warriors of the Special Forces watches over the country.
The Image shown is that of a Greek Special Forces Soldier in the uniform of the 1942-1955 Period
The panels adorning the walls of the monument exhibit the battles and the names of those fallen in combat conducting special operations
The combat exploits of the Greek Special Forces (The Sacred Band) are legendary, the battles show actions from the failed Italian Invasion to resistance actions against the Axis Powers, through North Africa and Normandy. Many of the most heroic actions of the Greek Special Forces were conducted during the Greek Civil War 1948-52, the majority of those named on these walls are of that conflict in particular the battle of Vitsi Grammos which was the deciding battle against the communist insurgency that claimed over 1 million lives.
Orthodox Christianity is one of the central pillars of Greek Society. In the center of the monument is an etched Icon of Saint George, as the Patron Saint of Soldiers the world over the significance of his position as the focal point is not un-noteworthy. All the names and features of the monument face inward towards Saint George.
A final inscription in the form of a poem reveals who these men were and why they fought. It says, "The Men of the mountain squadron / Had wings instead of feet and steel instead of a heart / They fell while singing hail oh hail freedom." What a paradox line for a monument built during Greece's dictatorial rule. However, the verse looses not a bit of its importance. Only this time, the men and women fighting against tyranny were not soldiers but students and common citizens. Inspired by the Paris student revolt and singing songs praising liberty and free-thinking, democracy was once again restored to its ancestral land.

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