Many deeds of heroism performed by the Evzones will remain unknown. They are all represented by the action of Evzone Konstandinos Koukidis, who happened to be the Guard of Honour of the Greek Flag on the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis when the Germans entered Athens in 1941.
As the Germans ascended the Acropolis to raise the German flag, Koukidis lowered the Greek flag, wrapped himself in it and jumped off the Acropolis. The Greek flag became Kostas Koukidis’ winding-sheet, but it did not fall into the hands of the enemy.
The Greek Evzones have purely ceremonial duties. The best-known is the symbolic guarding of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square, next to the Greek Parliament. There are also guards at the Presidential Mansion and at the gate of the barracks of the Presidential Guard. Other duties are:
* The official raising and lowering of the flag on the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis every Sunday.
* Guard of honour to the President of the Republic and foreign heads of state.
* Guard of honour to foreign ambassadors as they present their credentials to the President of the Republic.
Evzones also accompany the Holy Fire on its journey from Jerusalem to Athens every Easter.
If you ever find yourself on Herodes Atticus or Vassilisis Sofias Avenues, you will see a white path on the pavement slabs formed by the clogs of the Evzones where they pass. According to them, this path symbolises the path to the national fights for independence. The Evzones never deviate from this path, no matter what obstacles they may meet in their way.
History of the Evzone Uniform
In Greece, the modern Evzone uniform embodies centuries of national struggles and times of peace. The uniform originated with the “Euzones” (“well-girt”) fighters of Homer’s time and developed with the addition of the fustanella (kilt) and tsarouchia (clogs) into a specific type of uniform during the period of the Turkish occupation. Thus the modern Evzone uniform is derived from the ancient Greek chlamys (cloak). Later, during the Greek Revolution of 1821 for national independence and freedom from the Ottoman Empire, the uniform was adopted by the revolutionary war-leaders and fighters, as an official national costume. This honoured uniform was also worn by the glorious Evzone Regiments and Battalions in the Balkan Wars, the Asia Minor Expedition, and the First and Second World Wars. Today the men of the Presidential Guard wear the uniform with pride, as a mark of respect to national tradition and in homage to the heroes of our nation’s fight for freedom and independence.
Apart from the Evzone uniform, the Presidential Guard also wear the Cretan uniform with its characteristic breeches and knife worn in the belt. The Cretan uniform is worn on certain official ceremonial occasions. In this way the Presidential Guard represents both those who live on the mainland and islanders. Thus the Evzone uniform represents the warrior of the mainland, while the Cretan uniform represents the warrior of the Greek islands.