Speech chairman Benoit Mottrie 11/11/2016

Last year, two days after this ceremony had taken place, 130 people were killed by terrorists in Paris. In March of this year, 32 people were killed in bomb attacks in Brussels. This was followed by further outrages in Munich and Nice. Tegelijkertijd sterven iedere dag honderden onschuldige vluchtelingen in de Middellandse Zee. 

What, if anything, do these tragic events have to do with the Last Post Ceremony? Can a ceremony dedicated to the remembrance of men who died more than 100 years ago have anything to say about the problems of the world today?

Remembrance is not simply a question of remembering those who died. It is also about remembering the reasons why they died. It is about questioning whether those reasons were valid. It is about considering the possibilities to prevent any repetition. Ceremonies like the Last Post not only provide a context for thinking about these matters in terms of the past, but also encourage us to reflect on how we would answer those same questions today. De waarden die vandaag in onze maatschappij onder druk staan, zijn dezelfde waarden als in 1914 en 1939.

There are parallels to be drawn and lessons to be learnt.

Should we be pessimistic about these matters? I think not. Remembrance not only gives us an understanding of the past and suggests possible guidelines for the present: it also gives us hope for the future.

De meeste van ons hier aanwezig hebben een leven in onafgebroken vrede, vrijheid en voorspoed gekend. Wij zijn het levende bewijs dat de offers van de twee Wereldoorlogen, hoe vreselijk ook, niet tevergeefs waren.

This, too, is what we remember when the Last Post is played: that after war comes peace; that after destruction comes reconstruction, that after enmity comes reconciliation, that after mistrust comes understanding. But this does not happen by itself. It will only happen if we are true to ourselves and hold fast to the things we believe to be right.

We therefore have a responsibility, each of us in our own way, to ensure that we live up to the example we have been set by those who went before us, so that we can preserve the legacy they have given us. It is our most precious gift.

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