The Independence Day parade Thursday ought to open or close with the heroes of today, the doctors, nursing staff and members of the ambulance service who are on the frontline of this pandemic.
They are the symbols of a new patriotism on which the country must depend to face the challenges ahead. They work endless hours, are underpaid, and display dedication and professionalism. They are what every country needs to survive, a “spine.” Over the last year their lives have changed. Their fatigue is evident, as the pandemic continues unabated, the ambulances keep on being dispatched, and admissions to Greece’s intensive care units continue to rise.
These people are part of a special category of Greeks that keep the country on its feet. They stand alongside the officers that held the border at Evros or those that face an unequal struggle both over and under the Aegean Sea. The Greek state should have found a way to compensate them better and to generally improve both their and their families’ lives.
Of course, this is not something that will improve the caliber of their work nor their passion for it. Whoever considers this situation in these terms fails to grasp its essence. Thankfully, there are still people in Greece who are not susceptible to the disease of immorality and endless cynicism. When “the idle whiskey-sipping Athenians” wallow in misery and gossip, the people on the frontline are doing their part with diligence and professionalism. They exemplify what Archbishop Anastasios accurately referred to as “quality resistance.”
The coronavirus has not allowed us to applaud them, embrace them, revere them in the way they deserve. It is unfortunate that the Greek people will be unable to participate in and celebrate even this parade organized for this historic anniversary. Because the fact of the matter is that the admiration of Greek heroes on any frontline thankfully unites us, at least those who are interested in building and not demolishing. I do not know if the plans include the participation of some of these people in the parade. What I do know is that we owe them a great deal of gratitude and we need to find tangible and intangible ways of repaying this massive debt.