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Melbourne’s Cretan community marks 80 years since Battle of Crete with special events

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It was a big weekend of events in Melbourne as the local Greek and wider community gathered to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.

Commemorations kicked off with an official dinner dance on Saturday, April 17, at the Cretan Village in Wantirna South, which featured plenty of Cretan dancing and music.

The dance, which was hosted by the Pancretan Association of Melbourne and the Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne under the auspices of the Cretan Federation of Australia and NZ, was attended by over 550 people.

A wreath laying ceremony was held at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.

This included a number of dignitaries and prominent members of the Greek and wider community such as the Very Reverend Father Evmenios, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the District of Northcote, the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Emmanuel Kakavelakis, President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and NZ, Tony Tsourdalakis, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Oakleigh and Districts, Chris Damatopoulos, President of the Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne, Michael Houdalakis, President of the Pancretan Association of Melbourne, Emmanuel Starakis, and President of Pontiaki Estia, Kostas Tseprailidis, among many others.

Everyone was treated to a number of traditional Cretan dancing performances on the night from the dancing groups of the Pancretan Association and Cretan Brotherhood, as well Cretan music from Sifis Tsourdalakis on the lyra, Paddy Montogomery and George Lerakis on the laouto, Tony Iliou on the guitar and the Δημοτική ορχήστρα- Δυο πατρίδες.

Church service and doxology presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia.

After the official dance, on Sunday, April 18, the local Greek and wider community gathered again at the Greek Orthodox Holy Archdiocese Cathedral of St Eustathios in South Melbourne for a church service and doxology, presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia.

This was followed by a wreath laying ceremony of over 50 wreaths at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, which was run by the Battle of Crete and Greece Commemorative Council to remember all those lives lost in action during the Battle of Crete 80 years ago.

Representatives from the army and Federal Government, such as Maria Vamvakinou (right) were in attendance.

Present at the ceremony were Archbishop Makarios of Australia and the Consul General, as well as a number of representatives from the Australian Defence Force, the Victorian and Federal Governments and the Victorian Opposition, among many others.

A brief ceremony was also held at the Australian Hellenic Memorial, which is dedicated to the Battle of Crete, and a number of speeches were given, including one by the Consul General himself.

The day’s official proceedings concluded with a luncheon at the Cretan House in Brunswick. Attendees at this event included, but are not limited to, Archbishop Makarios, His Grace Bishop of Dervis Ezekiel, His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope, the Very Reverend Athenagoras, the Very Reverend Father Evmenios, Maria Vamvakinou MP, Lee Tarlamis MP, David Davis MP, President of the Cretan Federation of Australia and NZ, Tony Tsourdalakis, and President of the Cretan Brotherhood of Melbourne, Michael Houdalakis.

In his speech on the day, Mr Tsourdalakis also made a public statement in support of Archbishop Makarios regarding the recent ABC investigation into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.

During the afternoon, the Battle of Greece and Crete Commemorative Council also honoured Peter Ford, son of an Anzac Cretan veteran, and Shirley Devery, daughter of an Anzac Cretan veteran, for their parents’ service during the Battle of Crete.

The event concluded with Cretan dance performances and music, which was enjoyed by all.

“I was very ecstatic at the turnout on Saturday and Sunday. We had a record crowd of over 500 people… and more importantly, we had over 200 Cretan youth attend the Sunday memorial service in national costume, which means we’re passing on our message and the baton for the younger generation to eventually get involved,” Mr Tsourdalakis tells The Greek Herald.

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