No military parade on National Day as Greece fights coronavirus

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou

Traditionally on the 25th March, the main streets of Athens are blocked and full of people gathered around to watch the grand military parade that features thousands of armed service personnel, with squadrons from all of the Hellenic Armed Forces, civil and military marching bands followed by a procession of military vehicles.

This year, with the rise of the coronavirus, commemorations for the National Anniversary were different and a military parade did not take place.

At The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Syntagma Square, Athens), President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou laid a wreath in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other leaders of the parliamentary parties. 

25th March 2020
Image credit: Eurokinissi

During the wreath laying ceremony, in honour of the heroes of the Greek Revolution of 1821, 4 Air Force Mirage 2000-5 mk2 jets and 6 Army and Navy helicopters flew over Syntagma Square.

While Greek citizens proudly waved their flags and recited the Greek National Anthem from their balconies, the pilot of the F-16 "Zeus" sent a message to everyone. “Greek women, Greek men. Together, let us continue to give meaning to the sacrifices of our ancestors. In the 199 years since the 1821 Revolution, that we are honouring today, Greece has had many glorious times, but has also faced many difficulties. We always come out stronger. Ζήτω η Ελλάδα," the pilot said.

In a TV address, Mitsotakis said that the lack of celebration did not mean that Greece was not commemorating its national day. "We do not celebrate March, 25 in the streets and in squares. But we honour this day from our homes with our waving flags and our thoughts are turned today to the fight of our ancestors for freedom."

He also paid tribute to "the heroes in white and green gowns", meaning the medical staff dealing with coronavirus cases in the country. "Today we are giving them strength, and we are listening to their recommendations: we are not going out, we stay at home!" he added.

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