By popular request and after obtaining special permission from the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos the contingent of the Presidential Guard (Evzones) landed in Adelaide on Tuesday night, where they are scheduled to stay for five days and attend activities hosted by the Foundation for Hellenic Studies with the support of the South Australian government.
The Evzones will also visit Sydney to participate in ceremonies marking both the anniversary of ANZAC Day and the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete, making their visit a historic moment for the relations of Greece and Australia.
“We have been incredibly fortunate to have the Evzones visit South Australia for the second time in our history,” said the Foundation for Hellenic Studies Chair, Greg Crafter AO.
“This year’s public program of events will offer many opportunities for South Australians to participate in the visit of the Guard. When attired and on duty, the Evzones are a sight to behold.”
A full program of free and public events is organised for the visit of the Hellenic Presidential Guard to Adelaide.
Dressed in their ceremonial uniform, which is steeped in symbolism, they will pay their respects to the ANZACs who fought in Greece and Crete by marching to the War Memorial on North Terrace in Adelaide and will take part in a pre-ANZAC commemorative wreath laying ceremony to be held at the War Memorial on Saturday.
“Over 2,000 South Australians are expected to march behind the Evzones and witness the commemoration of those who served in the Great War and other theatres of war with a wreath-laying ceremony attended by His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia, the Consul General of Greece in Adelaide Andreas-Konstantinos Gouras, members of Parliament, representatives from the Australian Defence Force, the RSL, the Greek Community, and South Australian students,” said media coordinator, Connie Costi.
The Evzones will remain at the Memorial with a changing of the Guard scheduled to take place at 11.00 am, 12 midday, 1.00 pm, and finally at 2.00 pm.
“I was overwhelmed to see the Evzones march last year in Adelaide and I look forward to this year’s visit,” said 91-year-old Stergios Mitkas, who was born in 1927 in a village called Flambouro in Greece’s northern regional unit of Florina and migrated to Australia in 1954.
“Although military duties were compulsory for most, I was exempt as I was the eldest son of an orphaned family. Orphaned at 13 years of age, I would watch and admire the soldiers in our village knowing that I wouldn’t be able to emulate those duties. I recall back in Flambouro, that many students would dress up as Evzones on National Days. I especially admired the Evzones for their discipline and imposing presence.
“They demonstrate courage, commitment and honour. Such is their influence for both the youth and the elders of our community,” added Mr Mitkas.
Planned visits also include St Basil’s Homes in South Australia, where the leader of the Evzones will give a speech recounting the history of the Presidential Guard. They will also head to the Ridleyton Homes for the Aged, and after changing into their official ceremonial dress, St George College where the students will have the opportunity to meet with them and ask questions regarding their role in the military of Greece.
Evzones will also attend the Liturgy and Ceremonial procession from St George Church in Thebarton to St George College to attend the St George’s Paniyiri on Sunday 22 April.
Members of the Hellenic Presidential Guard will stay in Adelaide until Monday before they depart for Sydney. Their visit will conclude on 30 April.
“There is no guarantee that they will return next year, therefore, I urge all South Australians to witness the Evzones and acknowledge the significant historical relationship between Australians and the Guards – it stretches back generations,” said Mr Crafter.