THESSALONIKI, Greece – For nearly half a century, she raised a Greek flag every day at the border with Turkey — a simple act that elevated her to national status.
A funeral service was held Monday for 107-year-old Vasiliki Lambidou in the village of Marasia, located in the country's remote northeast. She died on Sunday.
Lambidou had lived in the same house a few dozen yards (meters) from the Greek-Turkish border along the Evros river since 1962. She raised the flag over her home — the closest one to the border — every day since.
She was much loved by generations of army conscripts, for whom she cooked and did laundry while they manned a guard post near her house. Soldiers would reciprocate by giving her food and wood for her fireplace.
Numerous photographs of soldiers who served there hang on the walls of her house.
Lambidou, whose family was among hundreds of thousands who were part of a population exchange with Turkey following a war in 1921, was honored numerous times by Greek regional and national authorities. Greek President Karolos Papoulias had visited Lambidou at her home in January.
Lambidou was buried with full military honors. The Greek flag draping her coffin was handed to her granddaughter.
Senior army staff who attended the funeral praised Lambidou's dedication.
"She was a mother to all soldiers, to all Greeks," said Greece's Army Chief of Staff Frangos Frangoulis.
Area military commander, Colonel Nikolaos Manolakos, said the Greek flag would continue to be raised at Lambidou's home in her memory.
Greece and Turkey have had historically strained relations, but ties have improved drastically over the past decade.