In my first trip to Europe, in 1976, I noticed so many wonderful Greek antiquities in the various national museums. I thought “So why are they here? They should be in Greece”.
Later I saw the Parthenon Temple in Athens and learned of the exquisite statues which once adorned it. The Parthenon Marbles sitting forlorn in foreign lands must be returned home to Greece. It became an obsession with me.
At the 1981 national Convention of AHEPA the first committee in the world dedicated to the return of the Parthenon Marbles was established with the support of AHEPA. In subsequent years I lectured on the Parthenon Marbles and the case for restitution throughout Australia, the USA, Greece and New Zealand. In 1984, Melina Mercouri, then Minister for Culture in the Greek Government, put me in touch with the newly formed British restitution committee and we have supported them and worked together with them since that time. I went to New Zealand in 2000 and formed a new committee to represent that country in our combined worldwide effort to press for the just return of the ancient treasures to Greece.
Why all this effort? You must understand what the Parthenon Marbles mean to us.
They are our pride, our sacrifices, a noble symbol of excellence. They are a tribute to the Democratic philosophy. They are the essence of Hellenism.
EMANUEL JOHN COMINO AM