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Politics

A Young Hero of the Cyprus Struggle is Remembered in Athens

ATHENS – ‘National Martyr’ Evagoras Pallikarides, hero in the struggle for the liberation of Cyprus, is gone – thanks to the depredations of the occupation forces of the United Kingdom in 1957 on the island of Cyprus – but he will never be forgotten. Lovers of freedom, and especially Hellenes, continue to honor him both on the Great Island, and in the Hellenic Republic, as well as throughout the Diaspora. On July 8 the municipality of Agia Paraskevi unveiled a statue and dedicated a square to his memory.

Vasilis Zorbas, the mayor of Agia Paraskevi, in a brief but touching presentation spoke of the historic and contemporary importance of the courageous young man – he was 19 years old when he was executed. Zorbas acknowledged that the project to honor Pallikarides was begun under his predecessor Yannis Stathopoulos, and was also possible thanks to the efforts of the ‘Epitropis Protoboulias’ and the donations of ship owner Thanasis Martinos.

Perhaps the most moving moment that evening was the appearance of Pallikarides’ grand nice, Magdalini Stavrinidi, who recited some of his words. She noted that the judge at Pallikarides’ trial asked him, “do you have anything to say, since the death penalty awaits you?” The prisoner answered, “I know you are going to hang me. What I did, I did as a Greek Cypriot who demands his freedom. Nothing else.”

In his final letter, Pallikarides wrote, “I advance towards my fate with fervor. This is probably my last letter – but that doesn’t bother me. I regret nothing. Let me lose everything. A man only dies once. Let me walk happily to my final home. What does ‘today’ mean? What is ‘tomorrow’? We will all die one day, and it is a good thing to die for Hellas. It is 7:30 on the most beautiful day of my life. The most beautiful time – don’t say to me ‘why?’”

On March 14, 1957 he sang the Greek national anthem as he was led to the scaffold, passing into history and eternity. The young man made the ultimate sacrifice and a few years later, his beloved Cyprus was free.

Journalist Manolis Miliarakis, who served as emcee for the simple but moving ceremony, also spoke about what Pallikarides means to him.

Among the honored guests were Kyriakos Kenevezos, the Ambassador to Greece of the Republic of Cyprus. He thanked all who gathered there that evening and those who made the monument and the renaming of the square possible. He said it “will be a permanent reference point, indeed a permanent lighthouse for the memory of a Hellene, a person, a man who didn’t merely write a little piece of history, but who is a strong part of the history of Hellenism.”

Kenevezos continued, “our Evagoras will fill this square with heroism and courage and inspire people, especially the youth,” and he emphasized that in the eastern Mediterranean – where the nation still faces dangers – young people are again ready,” like Palikarides, “to sacrifice the ‘me’ for the ‘us’, who are ready to set aside their future for the future of the rest.”

Also present were Zia Lysandrou Panagide, the mayor of the occupied town of Lefkonikos, representatives of the Archbishop of Greece Ieronymos, and Giorgos Silouris, the president of the Federation of Cypriot organizations.

Metropolitan Giorgos of Paphos, where Pallikarides was born, also spoke. “I honored to have been chosen to speak about a unique Greek hero. He was not merely an average hero. His life represents a peak in our recent history.” He added that through their deaths some people become lighthouses for their nation, and such a man was the adolescent Pallikarides.

After the ceremony, Christos Kalloou and his fellow musicians performed moving pieces apropos of the occasion, and Mayor Zorbas took the opportunity to speak to citizens about the numerous building projects and initiatives of the municipality.

 

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