The story behind the featured image of a Greek Mother giving her son what appears like a photo, to kiss, is a story as old as every bloody war in the history of Greece, where mothers send off their sons with family memorabilia, talismans, and religious items to guard them as they defend their homeland against pirates, barbarians and fascist would-be invaders.
Greece has lost a lot of blood for freedom since the ancient city-states, to the enslaved nation under the Ottomans and later, in independent modern Greece.
In this photo, the mother of infantry soldier Kostas Nikolaou gives him an icon of St George to kiss, a day before the start of the Greco-Italian war, as he prepares to head off to the battle front.
The photo was taken in Athens 1940 by Voula Papaioannou and from the Benaki Museum Photo Archives.
It is said he offered the following words of consolation to his mother in front of the photographer just as he set off to the battlefront:
Mother if you see my children tell them
that the last time you saw me
I was kissing the icon of Saint George.
Don’t cry mother, you are Greece, mother.
For her I go to fight and I will be victorious mother.
YES, I WILL BE VICTORIOUS!
– Infantry soldier Kostas Nikolaou,
35 years old, killed in battle,
27 days after the war started against the Axis Powers.
“Μάνα, όταν δεις τα παιδιά μου, να τους πεις ότι τελευταία φορά με είδες
να φυλάω την εικόνα του Αη Γιώργη.
Μην κλαις ρε μάνα, είσαι η Ελλάδα ρε μάνα.
Γι’ αυτήν πάω να πολεμήσω και θα νικήσω ρε μάνα,
ΝΑΙ, ΘΑ ΝΙΚΗΣΩ!!”
ΣΤΡΑΤΙΩΤΗΣ ΠΕΖΙΚΟΥ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΣ ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟΥ, ΕΤΩΝ 35
Σκοτώθηκε σε μάχη 27 ημέρες μετά την έναρξη του πολέμου.
Αναφορές λένε ότι σκότωσε 400 Ιταλούς στρατιώτες!