We have always had the desire to write a book that highlights the heroes of the 21st century. We are both primary and secondary educators and have successfully collaborated on the writing of other books aimed at this readership.
- After discussions with "En plo" Publications we agreed to start writing our book Twice in '21 , a title that arose from our idea to include equally in its contents 21 male heroes and 21 female heroes who contributed in their own way in the struggle for the freedom and independence of our country. We believe that the promotion of women and their participation in the Greek Revolution was something that was missing from the literature aimed at children and teenagers. Most of us knew only a few names of women who actively participated in the Struggle, while throughout Greece they resisted the Turkish yoke, each in their own way, many women who had remained historically invisible.
As educators, we are aware of children's lack of good knowledge of our history, especially for this period of the Greek Revolution. A book as compact, attractive and linguistically accessible as possible would go a long way in meeting readers with our history and the ideals and values of the people who gave everything so that we can live free today.
After many months of studying the sources and historical books, we came to the choice of the persons we would present, as well as the structure of our project. At the beginning of our book we attempt a connection with the end of the Byzantine Empire, the "End of an Era", as we call it, highlighting two important figures, a man and a woman, the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine Palaiologos and his mother, Helen Dragasi – Paleologina (Saint Patience). These two faces act as elements of unity with the heroes and heroines presented next. Among them is also the Filiki Etairia, as a secret organization that directed and supported the Greek Revolution, as well as the "Gelectsis", who represent the participation of children and teenagers in the struggle for the Freedom of Greece.
We believe that the promotion of women and their participation in the Greek Revolution was something that was missing from the literature aimed at children and teenagers.
Another element that we paid particular attention to is the pedagogical approach of our texts, so that they are attractive for children and teenagers and not lengthy. So we ended up with the one-page presentation of each hero and heroine, supplemented on the opposite page with the corresponding portrait. Spyros Zacharopoulos, who took over the illustrations, was enthusiastic about the texts and created the best images we could have. Keeping elements from tradition and from the already existing portraits and busts, he proceeded to creatively reconstruct new images, which take the readers on a journey through the era and the lives of the heroes.
Through the faces we present, we want children to distinguish the concepts of hero and authentic role model from the manufactured role models of our time and the superheroes of magazines and movies. We live in the age of image and rapid changes, in the digital age where with the push of a button anyone can have a desired result. Children are born and raised in such a time. So we need to give them the opportunity to get to know in an entertaining way, such as reading, at least some basic elements that work in unification with our cultural identity and our historical course. We truly wish our book to work in this way on the souls of our readers. In the last paragraph of our introduction, with the title "A hero is not born, you are made", we explain about our book that "mostly it is a book of faith, hope and love. Faith in God who stood by the struggle of the Greeks, Hope for the emergence of modern heroes and personalities and Love for Freedom which is the essence of living and being called human". May it therefore be able to inspire and nurture thinking people, with vision, values, ideals and selfless love for our country, like that of the fighters of 1821 and even greater!
Twice in '21
21 heroes and 21 heroines of the Greek Revolution of 1821
Angeliki Mastromihalaki – Pantelis Zouras
Illustration: Spyros Zacharopoulos