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Armistice 2022: Speech

Address by Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association

Premier, minister, excellenties, burgemeester, dames en heren, ladies and gentlemen,

At the time, people believed that the First World War would be the war to end all wars.
Sadly, it wasn’t.
Just twenty years later, the world was in flames again, and even as we speak armed conflict
still laps around the fringes of Europe.
Does this mean that the men whose names line these walls died in vain?
Some people might argue that they did. Mahatma Gandhi once asked: “What difference
does it make to the dead whether the destruction is brought in the name of autocracy or in the name of democracy?”
Is this what the men of 14-18 also thought?
Is it what the soldiers and people of Ukraine think today?

Hoewel de meesten onder ons hier aanwezig nooit een oorlog van dichtbij meemaakten,
volstaat het even te kijken naar de 54.604 namen op dit monument om te beseffen dat oorlog
ten allen tijde moet vermeden worden.
Maar wat als dat niet lukt?
Wat als naties hun eigen belangen blijven voorop stellen?
In dat geval leert de geschiedenis ons dat er bloedige conflicten plaatsvinden.
Dit gebeurde in 1914, opnieuw in 1939 en vandaag opnieuw in Ukraine.
Bij zo’n conflicten is het van cruciaal belang dat ten allen prijze de fundamentele mensenrechten en de waarden als democratie en vrijheid verdedigd worden.

Every defence of fundamental rights and ideals is meaningful.
No matter when it happens. No matter where it happens.
On the IJzer, on the Somme, on the Dnjepr: the time and place make no difference. It always matters.
The men who defended the Ypres Salient, fought to resist the unjustified aggression of an
invader to safeguard values that are still very much ours today.
They are not to blame if subsequent generations have failed to learn the lessons of their
At the time, they did what they had to do and they did it bravely. More importantly, we believe that it was the right thing to do – and for this we are grateful to them.
So no, the men named on this memorial did not die in vain.
That is why we honour them here today and will continue to honour them as long as the values for which they gave their lives, hold sway in our democratic society.

The Last Post

Every day, at 8 o’clock in the evening. The daily act of homage.

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