ORGANISERS of New Norfolk’s Remembrance Day service last Saturday were pleased with the turnout to what is generally a low-key observance of the anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. Addressing a slightly larger-than-usual gathering at the Cenotaph outside the Derwent Valley Council Chambers in New Norfolk, the Reverend Celia Hooker of St Matthew’s Anglican Church urged the community to “pray like never before” for a peaceful resolution to conflict in the world.
New Norfolk RSL Sub-Branch secretary Brian Glover welcomed those present, especially a small contingent of schoolchildren. “We commemorate this day and time not only to the members of the armed forces who lost their lives in World War I, but also to remember all the men and women who served in all conflicts since, especially those members of the armed forces, who made the ultimate sacrifice so that our country can remain free,” Mr Glover said.
In a brief address following the placing of wreaths on the Cenotaph, Mrs Hooker posed the question: “why is it that the 11th of November, 2023, is a day to stop and remember?”
“This is the day that the guns on the Western Front in 1918 fell silent and we owe our people so much,” the Reverend Hooker said. “They had been fighting at that point for four years of continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. They accepted Allied terms that amounted to unconditional surrender. So on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there was special significance in the post-war years. This day was to be remembered,” Mrs Hooker said.
Reflecting on present-day turmoil, Mrs Hooker said it seemed that little had been learned from that first modern world conflict. “Utopia is an unknown and maybe that’s what countries are fighting for. I read that Utopia is an imagined place or a state of things in which everything is perfect. It goes on to say that misplaced faith in political utopia has led to ruin,” she said.
“We’ve seen what’s happening in the Middle East and Ukraine and our hearts are breaking for those people, for the senseless loss of life. Not just military people, but innocent men and women and children. It would be so difficult for us to imagine living during such a dreadful time. I can’t imagine my sons or grandsons fighting in a war that they had no say in. So I stand before you today here in our small town, to show the world that we remember not only the armistice of World War I, but all our Australian men and women, and in fact those people throughout the world who have served and given so much.”
“This is a great time to pray like never before. We need all wars to cease. Only good can come from prayer. It’s hard for us to pray for those who think differently and yet we need to. Over the years, so many people have died. So many people have suffered. The least we can do is love, which costs nothing but humility at times. “
As the slightly-slow council chambers clock neared 11am, Derwent Valley Concert Band bugler Arthur Jones sounded the Last Post and Rouse on his bugle and concluded the ceremony with the national anthem on his trumpet.
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