The Cretan Association of Sydney & New South Wales held a commemorative Cocktail Party at The Cyprus Club in Stanmore on Friday, May 12 to mark the 82nd anniversary of the Battle of Crete.
The event was attended by a number of official guests including a military delegation from Greece consisting of Lieutenant General Georgios Kiriakou, Chief of Staff of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff; Commander Stylianos Mitsiotis from the Hellenic Navy; and Colonel Ioannis Fasianos, Defence Attaché from the Embassy of Greece in Canberra.
Also in attendance were the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia; the President of the Cretan Association of Sydney & NSW, Emmanuel Vitetzakis; the Chairman of the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Battle of Crete and Greek Campaign, James Jordan; the President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and New Zealand, Tony Tsourdalakis; and a number of representatives and Presidents from local Greek community associations.
The official proceedings on the night, which were emceed by Steve Siganakis, began with the National Anthems of Greece and Australia by the dancing groups of the Cretan Association of Sydney & NSW. The youth stood and sang proudly in their traditional Cretan costumes.
This was followed by a welcome from Mr Vitetzakis, a blessing from Bishop Christodoulos, and a number of addresses by Mr Mallikourtis, Mr Jordan, Mr Tsourdalakis and Lieutenant General Kiriakou.
In his welcome, Mr Vitetzakis encouraged everyone to honour the Greek, Australian, NZ and British troops who fought bravely during the Battle of Crete.
“I encourage all the kids here today to jump on the internet, go to the library, speak to your parents and your grandparents and learn about the Battle of Crete, learn about the struggles they faced and the resilience they showed,” Mr Vitetzakis said.
“Be proud that we are Greek. Be proud that we are Australian. We truly are blessed to have connections to both amazing countries.”
In his speech, the Consul General spoke about the strong historical links between Greeks and ANZAC troops on Crete and the Greek island of Lemnos, and stressed that the ANZACs “shaped the Australian identity.”
The Guest of Honour, Lieutenant General Kiriakou, also addressed the crowd and spoke briefly about the history of the Battle of Crete and its significance to World War II.
“The Cretan fight against the Nazi regime will never be forgotten. It fills us with pride and a sense of heavy responsibility to maintain and preserve our history,” the Lieutenant General said.
At the conclusion of these official proceedings, there was an exchange of gifts followed by light refreshments as people mingled and shared memories of their connection to the Cretans.
*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.