By Mary Sinanidis.
There were around 500 people who gathered at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on Sunday, March 20 to celebrate 201 years since the start of Greece’s War of Independence on 25 March 1821 – and half of them were officials.
Tony Tsourdalakis, head of the Organising Committee for the Celebration of the National Anniversary, told The Greek Herald prior to the event that he had expected 200 to 300 attendees. Despite exceeding expectations in numbers, it was a far cry from the droves that showed up in 2019, some of them booing Greek politicians who had supported the Prespes Agreement. As a result of these boos, the large parade was cancelled.
This year, it was a wiser group solemnly attending the first National Day celebration at the Shrine following the global pandemic. Without a parade, there were less students, Greek cultural groups and mayhem. But there was a lot of meaning packed behind the speeches of official guests and dignitaries, with both Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy present at the event.
The attendance list was plentiful including His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, Victorian Multicultural Commission Chairperson Vivienne Nguyen, Greek Community President Bill Papastergiadis, and Victorian Greek Australian MPs from across the board, local to federal, including Maria Vamvakinou, Member for Calwell, and Steve Dimopoulos, Nick Staikos, Kat Theophanous, Lee Tarlamis, Theo Zographos and more. Greece’s Consul General Emmanuel Kakavelakis, self-isolating due to COVID-19, was not present at the event.
*All photos copyright: The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.