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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 2 May 2015
NEWS 10 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 MAY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Honouring the 50,000 Australian soldiers who landed in Lemnos THEODORA MAIOS Anzac Day is a national remembrance day that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Most importantly, Anzac Day was originally born to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. What is probably not commonly known is that the Greek island of Lemnos was the principal assembly, embarkation and supply point for the Gallipoli landings in 1915. The landings at Gallipoli were practiced on Lemnos prior to deployment at Gallipoli and the island's main harbour, Moudros, was a major staging post for naval operations in the Gallipoli campaign, including Australia's AES2 submarine campaign. "The vast majority of Anzac troops spent time on Lemnos - whether preparing for the landing, resting or recuperating at its rest camps or recovering from the horrors of war in its field hospitals," explains the president of the Pan-Lemnian Association of Australia, Melba Giamarelos. L-R: Mayor of City Charles Sturt Angela Kenneally, Member for Taylor Leesa Vlahos MP (representing Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith), Andreas Gouras Consul General of Greece, Colonel Stanley Papastamatis, Michael Atkinson Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly Federal Member for Croydon and Matt Williams MP. Lemnos was also the location of the major nursing stations for the Gallipoli campaign, with 130 Australian nurses, led by Matron Grace Wilson - the first major overseas deployment of the Australian Nurses to a war theatre. "Sadly, the critical role of the Greek island of Lemnos and specific aspects of the Australian involvement in the Gallipoli campaign are not well recognised. Therefore we felt the need to honour the brave Australian soldiers who fought for our freedom while gently reminding the rest of the world about Lemnos' significant role in the Australian Anzac campaign," adds Ms Giamarelos. Consequently, the Lemnos Association of SA, which was formed more than 50 years ago and is part of the Pan-Lemnian Association of Australia, scheduled a program of events which was held on the 25 and 26 of April to commemorate the Centenary of Anzac. "The proposed memorial service and luncheon aimed to honour and commemorate the roles played by both Lemnos and Australia, on the occasion of the 2015 Centenary of Anzac," explains Ms Giamarelos. These celebrations included the placement of commemorative wreaths on Anzac Day, 25 April 2015, at the West Croydon and Kilkenny RSLs. During this ceremony, the president of the Lemnos Association of South Australia, George Kontos, and the ViceConsul General of Greece in South Australia, Pavlos Piakis, laid a wreath. The Mytilinian Brotherhood and the Pontian Association of SA also took part in this ceremony. The dawn service commenced at 6.00 am. Furthermore, a memorial service and luncheon was held on Sunday 26 April. The luncheon was held at the Lemnos Association Hall in the presence of distinguished Greek and Australian political and military dignitaries as well as 250 guests. According to Ms Giamarelos, not much has been documented in regards to the relationships between the soldiers and the islanders in Lemnos during this time. Through faded photographic material it is easily ascertained that the Australian troops developed good friendships and had positive liaisons with the locals, which in turn contributed significantly into Australia and Greece developing a very strong bond from those early days. "What most people don't realise is that the Lemnians provided a great level of support, collecting food and medical supplies to send to Moudros for the wounded troops. My grandfather was one of many who used to always collect milk for the soldiers," Ms Gia- marelos reveals. Lemnos is the location of two major but under-recognised Commonwealth War Graves, with 148 Australian graves. "As we look back and honour these soldiers who fought for freedom, it is incredibly sad that 100 years later, the government hasn't recognised Lemnos' significance during that time, but we are hoping that the situation will change in the near future," concluded Ms Giamarelos. Until then, all we can do is wish that neither Australia nor Greece or any part of the world will have to face such tragedy in the years to come and honour the relationship and strong bond that has evolved through most difficult circumstances amongst these two countries. Byzantine women under the microscope in Adelaide THEODORA MAIOS The Byzantine Empire existed for 1,100 years and it was the longest political institution and empire in the middle ages. Yet many people have limited knowledge of it, other than with the word ‘Byzantine’ being synonymous for highly intricate, complex, and devious dealings. But how did this era really influence the rest of the world? We sat down with Toula Kritas, who is currently studying her Masters in Ancient History and specialising in Byzantine History, who was cordially invited to speak about that period. The Byzantine Empire influenced, significantly, not just the West, but all of Eastern Europe as well as the Arabic countries, through the seventh, eighth, ninth centuries, culturally, spiritually and politically. Unfortunately, this period is somewhat lost. "Byzantine chronologically 'sat' between the brilliant ideal of the Classical World; Classical Greece, Rome and the Renaissance period, when all aspects of civilisation flourished. The adjoining periods were the dark ages. What's even more fascinating is that the Byzantine Period had no dark ages within it. It actually continued on and grew further, unlike its unfair negative portrayal in the most recent couple of decades. It is starting to get some more appreciation without the prejudices that it had in the past", says Ms Kritas. According to history, the Byzantine era has influenced the modern world in many different ways. "From a religious perspec- tive, most of the world doesn't realise the religious signif- icance of the East. Many of the decisions and debates that established the belief system of the Christian faith occurred here. In respect to tradition, the Byzantines were the continuers of the ancient world and the Roman Empire. Many of the Byzantine scholars who moved to the West, prior and after the Fall of Constantinople, were the catalysts of the Renaissance," says Ms Kritas. On the other hand, the Byzantine Empire today is still perceived by most as a patriarchal society. However, women actively participated in many aspects and spheres of Byzantine society although to an extent, these were limited to the upper classes. It's also this role of strong and dynamic women during these times that haven't been exposed. It is obvious that women had a very active role in Byzantine society and the ‘Byzantine Women’ presentation, which took place at the Greeks of Egypt & Middle East Society Hall on Wednesday 29 April, explored exactly that: the lives of empresses, saints, nuns, and as well, the ‘ordinary’ everyday Byzantine woman. Subjects included extraordinary women such as Empress Theodora and her life prior and after marrying Emperor Justinian. Through professional journals we can conclude that Theodora was a strong woman with a social conscience that strengthened the rights of women. "Theodora was crowned an empress. She was a co-ruler and played an integral part in the decision making process by assisting Justinian I in reforming the laws of the Byzantine Empire, known as ‘The Justinian Code’, says Ms Kritas. It is commonly known that, under Justinian and Theodora's rule, the Byzantine Empire flourished and prospered in many ways. Other women included Empress Irene, who reigned as a sole ruler for a number of years, female saints and their healing shrines, the first female historian Anna Komnena, hymnographer Kassiani and others. Their focus on spirituality was very strong. They focused on learning and highlighting the positive aspects of tradition and the honouring of heritage. They felt connected and respected their heritage. "One of the things we can learn from that era, in addition to history, is how similar the issues we face today are with those back then. We can use this knowledge and apply it to our own methods of han- dling multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. Thus, not repeating the same mistakes and learning from the past," concludes Ms Kritas. Whether you have an interest in the Byzantine Empire or simply a genuine interest in history and culture, it was a great opportunity to meet some of these fascinating and often un-celebrated citizens.
25 April 2015
9 May 2015