Evzones to visit South Australia for Oxi Day commemorations

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In recognition of Australians standing shoulder to shoulder with Greek and other Allied forces in the Battle of Greece and the Battle of Crete in 1941, members of the Hellenic Presidential Guard will visit Adelaide next month to help commemorate Oxi Day and unveil a memorial supported by the South Australian Government.

During their visit, the Hellenic Presidential Guard will partake in a week-long series of events, including the unveiling of a memorial at St George Greek Orthodox Church in Thebarton.

The State Government has provided $100,000 towards the permanent memorial, which honours both last year’s bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence and ‘Oxi Day’ itself.

The Evzones marching in Athens. Photo: Supplied to TGH

In an official statement, South Australian Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Tom Koutsantonis said: “As a multicultural State, it is crucial to encourage and support our diverse communities to celebrate important events and anniversaries that keep them connected with their heritage, history and cultural background.”

“We are very excited to be welcoming the members of the Hellenic Presidential Guard to South Australia and we look forward to commemorating Oxi Day with the Greek people, as well as celebrating them through the new memorial at St George Greek Orthodox Church.”

Oxi Day is celebrated annually on 28 October by Greece and Cyprus as the day the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Mussolini’s ultimatum in 1940 and declared they would not surrender to Axis powers.

The Evzones at the Acropolis in Athens. Photo: Supplied to TGH

The visiting party will be arriving as guests of the Foundation for Hellenic Studies and will include Greece’s Deputy Minister of National Defence, Nikolaos Chardalias.

He is set to attend a Service of Remembrance and wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday 29 October at South Australia’s National War Memorial.

During the service, members of the Guard will stand in honour of the ultimate sacrifice made by many in various wars.

The Battle of Greece was one of the first engagements of the Australian Army against Axis forces, with many of the Australians who sacrificed their lives buried or memorialised in Greece, in locations including Athens, Rhodes and Souda Bay in Crete.

Evzones at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Athens. Photo: Supplied to TGH

“We are grateful to have the members of the Hellenic Presidential Guard return to SA for the first time in three years,” Foundation for Hellenic Studies trustee, Harry Patsouris said.

“We see this as an opportunity for those in the SA Greek community who haven’t been able to get back to Greece because of the COVID-19 pandemic to reconnect with the Hellenic culture and tradition.

“We’re also extremely thankful for the support of the State Government in making this happen,” he concluded.

READ MORE: South Australians dressed as Evzones hit the road to raise funds for kids in need

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