Migrant’s wall gift to family

Maria Lemme, of Balgownie, has marked her maiden name on the National Maritime Museum’s Welcome Wall.Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Maria Lemme, of Balgownie, has marked her maiden name on the National Maritime Museum’s Welcome Wall.Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Balgownie's Maria Lemme has honoured her ancestors and kept her maiden name alive by inscribing her family name ‘‘Abbatantuono’’ on the National Maritime Museum’s Welcome Wall in Sydney on Sunday.

The inscription was a gift to her older sister and their families.

‘‘It’s easy to forget where you came from, so it’s good for our kids and their children,’’ she said.

About 300 new names were added to the wall, which pays tribute to migrant family members.

At the unveiling, Mrs Lemme, 55, spoke of her family’s journey from Italy to Australia in 1961.

Her family had intended to stay in Australia for only a few years but decided to settle permanently.

Mrs Lemme fondly remembered her Warrawong school friends asking to swap their lunch for her delicious food, and missing out on school for a few days each year to make traditional Italian tomato sauce.

‘‘I couldn’t live anywhere but here,’’ Mrs Lemme said.

‘‘You’re free to be what you want to be – there’s more acceptance of diversity.’’

Although her heart has long been in Australia, Mrs Lemme only officially became a citizen in 2006.

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