Honoring those who restored democracy

A large crowd gathered at the Presidential Palace earlier this week to commemorate the restoration of democracy in Greece. I’ve always accepted the invitation to attend this event. Even when I was on holiday, I would return for the night. I consider it an obligation because July 24 is one of the few points of reference for modern Greek society. The day signifying the fall from power of the oppressive military junta in 1974 has not lost its significance and resonance. The memorial of this event draws people whose names have become synonymous with the struggle against the dictatorial regime. This is a rare opportunity to meet and speak with them. These individuals devoted their youth and dynamism to a lonely struggle and paved the way for a new generation of politicians. They remained devoted to their outlook and did not «change camps» to make their lives more comfortable. They did not gamble their conscience on the value market of a political party system. They preferred to withdraw from public life rather than become professional opportunists. I do not know why, but every time I leave this annual function, I feel melancholic and think that I should not return. But I do go back, every year, however irritated I may be by the crowd of celebrities who, bent over their drinks and canapes, debate «the situation» while puffing on their pipes. Maybe I keep returning because, behind this pompous facade, I know I will see an old veteran such as Manolis Glezos, who will remind me of the hope that emerged in those dark days.