It was mid-December 1940, approximately fifty days after the outbreak of the Greco-Italian war, when the American magazine ”LIFE” featured a Greek Evzone on its cover.
At that time, ”LIFE” magazine was the leading American publication in photojournalism.
At a time when photographs were relatively rare in newspapers and magazines, the team at ”LIFE” managed to create this major new innovation of making photographs the center of a story, rather than the text behind them.
Not even two months after the unjustified aggression of Mussolini’s Fascist Italy against Greece, the entire free world was talking about the heroism this small nation was showing against a powerful member of the Axis Powers.
The Italians not only had not managed to conquer Greece by the time of the photo’s publication, but Greek soldiers were actually pushing the Italians back to Albania, liberating the lands of Northern Epirus, where the majority of inhabitants were ethnic Greeks.
American society, still not actively engaged in what was then viewed widely as just another endless European war, was beginning to hear about Greece’s heroic resistance against the darkness of Fascism and Nazism.
For many back then, Greece was no less than a modern incarnation of David, who was courageously fighting against Goliath.
Featuring a Greek soldier wearing the traditional costume of the Evzones in front of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, playing the trumpet as a call to arms, the photograph was meant to become an iconic symbol for the Greek nation.
An ode to the soul of a country which never compromised with fear and repression, fighting against all odds to retain its most valuable possession: freedom.
”LIFE” Magazine is no longer in circulation, having published its final issue in 2000. But its multitudes of iconic cover photos have lived on in various permutations ever since then.
In the decades after the folding of the magazine, it has been published sporadically as a newspaper supplement, and its website is now a photo channel on the famous ”TIME” magazine’s website.