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.

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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