Because they are ignorant of the reality. The battle of Thermopylai was a holding action to force a sea battle to destroy the Persian fleet. The sea battle failed and the force holding the pass of Thermopylai dispersed. It had no positive success.

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And none of the Greek states were democracies at that stage, so they could not have saved democracy.

It did however stand as a symbol of fighting tenaciously against the odds. It also stood as a symbol of sacrifice for others – the Spartan contingent continued to hold the pass to let the other contingents escape, and were all killed, sacrificing themselves for their allies.

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