The last of a generation are slowly departing, leaving behind them a void. It is the generation that lived through some of the greatest and most tragic moments of our history: war, occupation, civil strife, the political crisis of the 1960s and the dictatorship.
They experienced these moments intensely and that’s why they are wiser than all of us who grew up during times of abundance and prosperity and boundless expectations. I still recall an important figure who told me at the beginning of the financial crash in 2009: “The problem with you is that you are certain that each new year will be better than the last. Well, it won’t always be this way. Get over it.”
The leftists of that generation had a lot to say. Most of them do not regret the upheaval and tribulations they went through. And those who got on with their lives can now see with clarity where this country would have been today if they had won back then.
They were scared stiff as they saw the country tumbling into division and violence during the fierce protests against Greece’s memorandums and in the wake of that anger.
They knew well where civil strife can lead, and the danger posed by those with fanatical views. Others remained stuck in the past and raised a generation that wants to exact revenge for the Varkiza Treaty, which specified the disarmament of leftist/communist fighters. They all experienced things that we can’t imagine and that the country shouldn’t live through again.
Another part of this generation literally rebuilt Greece. It raised it from the rubble and turned it into a modern Western country that was light years ahead of its neighbors. It made mistakes, it committed sins, but it did move the country forward.
This generation had civil servants who put their sense of duty before partisanship, professors who were well-educated and inspired their students, and artists who created work that will stand the test of time.
I feel sorry because as important people (each in their own way) pass away, their life stories also fade away. They take so much away with them.
If there’s one thing I would urge people to do today or tomorrow, that would be to take a recording device and document some of what these people lived through.
Look for letters, calendars, pictures, pieces of history which could be stored away, or maybe destined for the trash heap.
It is very important for us, for our children, for a country deprived of institutional memory as it is gets too excited and forgets too easily. As a result, the country is regularly thrown into turmoil and tragedy, looking like a boat without a compass at the first storm.