Anthony Albanese, Australian politician serving as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labor Party
Sadly we cannot come together and celebrate Greek Independence Day this year.
For once, we won’t gather in numbers to sing and dance, to share a meal or parade through the streets.
What does not change, even under these challenging circumstances, is that we reflect on the 400 years since the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire’s occupation of Greece, the 200 years since the great Greek revolt in the Peloponnese.
The chant “Freedom or death!” has lost none of its meaning, its resonance or its power in the two centuries since.
The very syllables of the word of your freedom – eleftheria – call out to us every day from the very stripes of your flag.
What also does not change is that we remember and hold close to our hearts the history that Greece and Australia share.
Gallipoli and Lemnos during World War I. The Battle of Crete during World War II. Greeks fighting side by side with Australians.
We live in a time of much greater peace, but once again we have been called upon to fight.
This week, the coronavirus pandemic has brought about limitations on our usual freedoms. Just as we have defended each other, we are working to protect one another from a very different sort of enemy. And we are working to defeat it.
To preserve our way of life, we must – for now – limit gatherings at home or church, close cafes and restaurants, and all the places where we would normally come together.
Rest assured, this will just be a pause. It will not be a full stop.
It is important, now more than at any time in recent history, that we come together to support each other, and continue our fighting spirit against this unprecedented health crisis.
I hope that next year I can join Greek-Australians for celebrations of Greek Independence Day. And I’m sure that we will celebrate twice as hard.