Remebrance Day message 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For the past thirteen years, I have addressed you as Patron of the Saint Lucia Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Service League at the beginning of Veterans’ Week, a Week which culminates in our solemn observance of Remembrance Day. On each occasion, I have asked you to join the rest of the international community in honouring the memory of those who gave up their lives during the two World Wars, and in acknowledging the contribution of those who returned. I have urged you not to allow the passage of time to dull our memory of the loss of life, of the hardships endured by those who served, of the pain and suffering of the wounded, and of the families and friends who lost their loved ones. For even if many people today wonder why we still observe Remembrance Day, and impatiently dismiss the efforts of those who still care and wish to preserve these memories; even if they would like us to forget the past and get on with our lives, we cannot afford to forget, lest we find ourselves repeating these same mistakes of the past. Indeed, Remembrance Day is mostly about refusing to forget, and here at home we have veterans of one of these wars still among us to force us to remember. The passion with which they execute this annual Week of Activities is testimony that, for them, the exercise is not just mere tradition, or nostalgia, or a reluctance to let go of the past. It is for them a sacred duty, an unwavering determination not to forget the sacrifice of their fallen comrades.
And so, it should be with us as a nation. Remembering and honouring those who fight for world peace should be a national duty. But it should also be a duty we owe to ourselves. To remember the sacrifice, the wrongs, the hurts, the brutality, the immense loss of life, the irrationality and the insanity of war, so that we may avoid and avert them. As we honour and remember those who responded to the call for duty this Remembrance season, let us apply the lessons they taught us in our current circumstances. Let each of us be bold in discharging our civic and national duty of working for the good of the country. Indeed, our actions over the past week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas, have proven that we are very capable of doing so. Let us be resilient to the many challenges and constraints that face our country and work to overcome them. Let us work together, in good times and in bad, having learnt from past experiences that there is strength in unity. These are some of the lessons that the veterans and the many who died taught us by their example.
The struggle for peace, justice and freedom is an on-going struggle. It cannot be seasonal or only when the country is in crisis. A foundation has been laid down for us by those who went before us, and it is for us who follow to do our duty to secure the survival of our civilisation, to ensure justice to all peoples and nationalities, to safeguard their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with each other, whether they be strong or weak.
These are the thoughts that should occupy our minds as we gather together this time before the Cenotaphs to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice. We will know later whether Remembrance Services scheduled for Castries on November 14 will still be held. Unfortunately, we will not be able to meet in Soufriere and Vieux Fort this year, but even as we mourn the loss of lives in the community of Soufriere during the coming Week, let us spare a thought and a prayer for those who died in another place and time in defense of their country’s honour and reputation. Let us during these Services renew our commitment to lead our country towards greater peace and harmony. Let us in the days and years ahead find appropriate ways to thank those who laid the foundations of that peace for their valiant service and for the price they paid.
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