The names of 192 migrants from the Greek island of Kythera have been permanently inscribed on a dedicated bronze panel on the National Monument to Migration at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
The Monument currently features over 32,000 names from 138 countries including 1,938 from Greece – amongst these, the first ten Greek migrants to Australia.
Now, a bronze panel, supported by Frutex, Pallion and Poulos Bros Seafood, was added to the monument in recognition of Kytherian migrants. The panel was official unveiled on Saturday, May 20.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by a number of distinguished guests including the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; the President of the Kytherian Association of Australia (KAA), Barbara Zantiotis (who was emcee); Dick Smith AC; Ted Egan AO; George Souris AM; among many others.
Ms Zantiotis kick started the official proceedings by asking Gamilaroi man, Michael West, to conduct a Welcome to Country.
Alexis Panaretos and Jim Tsolakis then sang the Australian and Greek National Anthems respectively, before speeches were given by Museum Deputy Director Michael Baldwin and the Consul General.
From there, everyone in attendance heard from some of the families whose names were added to the monument including Peter Magiros from Frutex Australia and Peter Poulos from Poulos Bros Seafood.
Kayla Cassimatis, the Secretary of the Kytherian Youth Association (KYA), also shared her grandparents’ migration story.
In his speech, Mr Magiros said he and his wife Helen were “very honoured” to be a part of the Kythera panel initiative.
“In Australia, I was free to pursue my dreams and there were endless opportunities available to me for which I will be eternally grateful,” Mr Magiros said when explaining his migration story.
“Throughout my life in Australia, my connection to my home in Kythera remained strong. My parents were there and it was important to me to maintain that connection.
“Australia was the future for me and my family and the foundations have been laid for a brighter future for the next second and third generations. I’m proud to have a part in the lucky country’s great migrant story.”
Mr Poulos spoke next and shared the migration story of his grandfather and family, who’s names have been inscribed on the dedicated Kytherian panel.
“We are proud to commemorate their names here on the welcome wall of the Australian National Maritime Museum as it’s a reminder to us, the generations that followed, what these brave people endured to make our lives what they are today,” Mr Poulos said.
“Today we are Australians, Australians descended from the island of Kythera – proud of our country Australia, and of our Greek heritage and culture.”
At the conclusion of these official speeches, there was a special premiere performance of the song Paragon Café by Mr Egan. The folk musician wrote the song after hearing the story of Kytherian’s migrating to Australia and being heavily involved with cafes. His dream was to always have the song sung by a Greek girl.
Ms Zantiotis made this dream come true on the day with Ms Panaretos singing Paragon Café, alongside dancers Robert Koutzoumis and Cara Diamond, who were choreographed by Jacinda Patty (Varipatis). Music was provided by Harry Mitchell (Mihalakakis), George Kotoros and Peter Selaidinakos.
Everyone was then encouraged to visit the Kythera panel on the national monument and view their names or those of their families.
* All photos copyright The Greek Herald.