Seventy-six years after Greece defied the fascist ultimatum, entering World War II, the memory of the nation’s heroic stance lives on. Greek Australians around the country honoured the memory of the war heroes during a series of the Greek national day celebrations.
In rural New South Wales, they even held a parade of Australian military vehicles, with the participation of veterans and students, attended by more than 200 people. The event was held in Thirlmere, 97 kilometres south-west of Sydney, organised by the local sub-branch of the RSL, Chapter Alexandros of the Order of AHEPA NSW and Macarthur Greeks.
Sitting in the seat of the ‘column’ commander was Consul-General Dr Stavros Kyrimis, while AHEPA NSW grand president John Kallimanis, Chapter Alexandros’ Lambros Papadopoulos, Greek Sub–Branch RSL stalwart Peter Tsigounis and others young and ‘young at heart’ boarded three military vehicles, forming a small parade.
Following the parade, the Consul-General, together with Mr Kallimanis (as president of the Hellenic Village organisation), presented commemorative ‘Anzacs of Hellas’ marble plaques to the four RSL Sub-branches present: Ingleburn, Campbelltown, Camden and Picton– Thirlmere–Bargo.
There were a number of officials present on the day, including David Clarke MLC and Lou Amato MLC, deputy mayor of Wollondilly Cr Robert Khan, together with councillors Simon Landow and Michael Banasik; the vice president of the RSL (NSW) John Haines, and the president of the Picton–Thirlmere–Bargo Sub–Branch of the RSL, Tim Bennett-Smith, who also served as master of ceremonies, amongst others.
From the Australian Hellenic community attendees included Sotiris Tsouris, president of the Cyprus Community of NSW; Dr Panayiotis Diamadis, president of the Australian Hellenic Educators’ Association; Maria Anthony and Efthimis Avgetidis, president and vice president of the Pontoxeniteas Brotherhood of NSW; Peter Papoulidis, president, Federation of Pontian Communities of Australia, and the stalwarts of the Macarthur Greeks, Magdalena Chatzopoulou, Corinne Rekouniotis and Terry Diomis.
The Greek national holiday was also commemorated at the Parish Community of St Anna on the Gold Coast on Sunday 23 October. Following the Divine Liturgy, a memorial service was held at the cenotaph outside the church conducted by parish priest Fr Romanos Stergiou, followed by presentations by the Greek School of St Anna, featuring songs, theatre sketches, and traditional dances. During the celebrations, Georgia Kallas was presented with an engraved commemorative plaque in recognition of her dedicated 38-year service to the Ladies Auxiliary of St Anna on her retirement.
Commemorations took place in other parts of Queensland, which were an overall success, with students taking part to highlight this significant event in Greek history.