Speech Chairman Benoit Mottrie
During the 20th century, it was necessary to fight two world wars before the peoples of Europe finally found a way to live together in peace, freedom and harmony.
These two world wars were part of the same process. The one has no meaning without the other. As a result of that process, hard and bloody though it was, almost all of us standing here this evening have been able to live lives of comfort and prosperity in a free society.
It is these gifts – and the sacrifices needed to secure them – that we remember with gratitude each evening during the Last Post ceremony.
Our ceremony traditionally honours the dead of the First World War, but tonight we also pay tribute to the men and women of the Second World War, and in particular those who liberated the city of Ieper, 75 years ago today.
That same day, 6 September 1944, also marked the resumption of the Last Post ceremony, after it had been suspended during the war years – although a daily act of remembrance was continued at a military cemetery in England by the Brookwood Last Post Committee, whose representatives we are pleased to welcome here this evening.
But since that September evening 75 years ago, the Last Post has been played unbroken at its true home, here at the Menin Gate.
This would not have been possible without the dedication of our Association’s buglers, ceremonial assistants and directors, and I offer my thanks to them all, both past and present.
But as always, our greatest gratitude must go to the men whose names line these walls and the walls of so many other cemeteries and memorials around the world.
It is to them, not us, that honour is rightly due.