One of the most popular attractions for foreigners visiting in Athens is the changing of the Presidential Guards, known as the “Evzones”, in front of the Greek parliament and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
But for the Evzones standing there, still on guard, under scorching heat or sub-zero temperatures, it is not an easy task and requires extreme discipline and dedication, as well as pride in their country.
This can be attested by a young man from Yorkshire who did his nine-month conscription as a Presidential Guard.
That’s right, an Englishman, not in New York as the famous Sting song said, but in the Evzones.
Twenty-six-year-old Evangelos Marathos Rainey is half American and half Greek, but grew up in Yorkshire, UK, and has spent nine months as a Presidential Guard in Athens.
His role was to watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Being part of the Presidential Guard is considered a huge honor to join the Guard, but not everybody is eligible to join.
To be considered, you must be:
At least 6ft 2 in height
Greek Christian Orthodox
Have no medical complaints
Have no visible tattoos
Every conscript guard is paid the same, 8.62 euros a month.
The Evzones have a very technical and unique way of marching during the ceremonial change of the guards.
Each step and movement has a meaning behind it, even down to standing still while on duty.
All the guards are conscripts, and with Evangelos’ conscription now complete he has returned to York and is now thinking of joining the British military.
Speaking to the camera, Evangelos seems very proud of his experience.