In honour of Greek National Day, Richard Marles MP, Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, gave an address yesterday at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia to commemorate 201 years of the Greek Australian Friendship.
Amongst those in attendance for this special event were His Eminence Archbishop Makarios and Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Community of Melbourne.
We gather in this building, of classical Greek design, which is one of the most sacred places in our nation.
It was conceived by the people of Melbourne, in an appeal led by Sir John Monash to be the repository of our national spirit in the aftermath of the sacrifice of the First World War.
One of the earliest expressions of that national spirit was on the beaches of Gallipoli, a campaign that was run from Greece, the island of Lemnos.
For the Diggers who were there, Greece was sanctuary.
So from the very beginning of the formation of our national character, the partnership between Australia and Greece was very present.
A hundred Greek Australians fought in the First World War, 2500 fought in the Second, and 17,000 Australians returned to fight in Greece on the island of Crete during the Second World War for that country, in the campaign against the Axis powers.
You cannot tell the story of the wonderful city of Melbourne without also telling a story of a great Greek city.
And you cannot tell the story of Australia's military history without also telling a story of a deep connection between Australia and Greece.
Greek Australians have fought in every campaign since - Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan.
And today, on this Greek National Day, we acknowledge all of their service, and we acknowledge the bond between Australia and Greece, which was forged by fire.
Richard Marles MP is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for National Reconstruction, Employment, Skills and Small Business, Shadow Minister for Science and Member for Corio.
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