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My November 17

18 November 2010 / 14:11:38  GRReporter
6525 reads

Major events come to us when we expect them the least. Sometimes they fell on us at the most inopportune moment. Another time they surprise us, we are not prepared but we react. And sometimes, very rarely we feel the wind of change far away and decide to be part of it. November 17, 1973 is a fateful date for Greece. Here's how several randomly selected participants in the celebrations recall it.

We met the 52-year-old electrical engineer Thanasis in front of the Athens Polytechnic shortly before the beginning of the annual procession to mark the 37th anniversary of the bloody suppression of student protests against the then ruling military dictatorship.

Thanasis was 15 years in 1973. He remembers today how he and a friend of his knew that students locked themselves in the building of the Athens Polytechnic. They decide to go there to see what happens. In front of the building are the police, chasing the gathered people among which are the two boys. "We ran while tired and hid in a bookstore on Omonia Square. We went out after a few hours and went home. We heard on the radio what happened at the Polytechnic later," remembers the man today. "We went the next day, but the spirits were already sad and mourning. In the days before the student blockade of the Polytechnic nothing indicated what will happen. We all felt that the end of the military junta is coming but we knew only where it will begin. It was a time of intense politicization," said Thanassis.

Maria lives on Fokionos Negri Street in the neighbourhood of Kipseli, in the near proximity to the place of November's events 37 years ago. She came to join the procession with a red rose in hand. "I remember very well what happened. I could not get down seeing it because my children were small and there was nobody to leave them, but I could hear the tanks and the shots. The spirits were high. They were telling on the radio that the junta will fall and it happened shortly after that," said the old lady.

Nikolaos was 24 years old at the time of the events at the Polytechnic. He was not a student but a construction worker near the Polytechnic and he participated in the events. His story is brief, but descriptive. "The tank broke down the door and went inside the building. They did not know what they were doing, they were shooting at random. I still have a scar from a bullet that caught up me in the leg. It was a fearful night."

Many of the people that visited the historic building in the past three days to lay flowers in memory of the dead youths were direct participants in the events or were among those who were gathered on the street. "I’m standing in the same place where I stood then," said one of them and politely refused to tell. Due to the strong emotions.



Tags: November 17Street demonstrationsViolanceUS EmbassyClashes
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