05/07/2018 – Viering 90 Jaar Last Post Association – Speeches voorzitter Benoit Mottrie
In 1928, a man named Pierre Vandenbraambussche had an idea. As police commissioner in Ieper, he had seen at first hand the horrors of war and the misery it inflicts on both soldiers and civilians alike. After the war, he had also seen the grief that the loss of so many lives still caused to so many men and women, whose fathers, sons and brothers had perished in the Ypres Salient.
And so Pierre Vandenbraambussche had an idea. His idea was that the people should remember. That the terrible events of the recent past should not be forgotten. What’s more, he wanted people to remember every day. And why not? The benefits of peace that people now enjoyed were enjoyed every day. And the threat that those benefits might one day be taken away by renewed conflict was also present every day.
And so he decided that a daily ceremony, based around the Last Post that he recently seen played during the inauguration of the Menin Gate Memorial, would best serve his purposes. If people were reminded every day, surely they would never forget?
But the more he thought about his idea, the more he realized he could not do it alone. With this in mind, he gathered a group of people who shared his vision: the Last Post Association was born.
But the young association also needed help. It needed buglers to play the salute: they were found in the local fire brigade. It needed a place where the salute could be played: the Imperial War Graves Commission kindly agreed that the Menin Gate could be used for this purpose. It needed the support of local people and the City of Ypres to make the ceremony organizationally possible: this support was freely and generously given. And it needed the approval of those for whom it was most intended, the peoples of the Commonwealth who had sacrificed so much for the causes of justice, freedom and peace. This, too, was never in doubt.
Vanaf de eerste dagen was de Last Post een samenwerking tussen verschillende mensen en verschillende organisaties die allemaal een gemeenschappelijk doel deelden. Nu 90 jaar later is dat nog steeds zo.
Bijgevolg wil ik van deze gelegenheid gebruik maken om de bijzondere dankbaarheid in naam van de Last Post Association uit te drukken tegenover iedereen die onze dagelijkse plechtigheid nog steeds mogelijk maakt:
Stad Ieper en in het bijzonder dienst Toerisme, technische dienst en natuurlijk ook de politiediensten voor hun dagelijkse logistieke ondersteuning.
Alle officiële instanties in ons land, de provincie, Westtoer, Vlaanderen en het nationaal niveau, die ons op allerlei manieren blijven ondersteunen.
A word of thanks goes to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which keeps the Menin Gate in perfect condition. To the British Commonwealth countries whose moral support is just as indispensable, a support that is underlined this evening by the presence of the representatives of different countries whose sons fought and died here.
A thank you to Colonel Scott Clingan and the Australian Army Band and Tine Devoghel and Chorus choir for their participation in the ceremony tonight.
We welcome Mayor Andrew King of Hamilton NZ. Your presence underlines the special bond between the LPA and your city.
We certainly want to thank all of you present here today : our life-time members and our sustaining members of which some are from the different corners of the world. Thank you for your moral and financial support. Your membership is essential for the continuity of our association. Last but not least, wil ik ook de voormalige en huidige leden van de Last Post Association bedanken voor hun tomeloze inzet, zonder dewelke onze plechtigheid niet kon blijven bestaan. Dit geldt in het bijzonder voor onze erevoorzitter Guy Gruwez en voor onze klaroeners en ceremonial assistants, die dag na dag, jaar na jaar, in regen of zonneschijn, hun taak plichtsbewust onder de Menenpoort uitvoeren.
Ik ben jullie allemaal zeer erkentelijk.
Yet while all these people and organizations are – and will remain – important for the future continuation of the ceremony, they are not the real reason for our being here tonight. We are here this evening – as we are here every evening – to remember with gratitude the men and women who died for the causes of justice, freedom and the restoration of peace.
It is they – not us – who are central to the Last Post Ceremony. It is their merit – not ours – that we can stand here as free people, united in a free and prosperous society. It is they who we will continue to honour every night .
This evening marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Last Post Association and the Last Post Ceremony, which today is being played for the thirty-one thousand and ninety-second time. This is a record of dedication in the cause of remembrance of which the Association itself and the City of Ieper can rightly be proud.
But it is a record that has only been made possible by the efforts and commitment of many different men and women over the past nine decades. First and foremost, the members of the Association itself; not just its board members, but also our many ordinary members, whose moral and financial support helps to make this ceremony possible.
Equally, important is the encouragement and logistical support our association receives from numerous official bodies, not only from local, provincial, regional and national authorities in Belgium, but from governments and organizations all around the world.
‘Worldwide’ also describes the many thousands of ordinary men and women from many different countries who attend the ceremony each year. Their presence is not only a continuing source of inspiration for our Association, but also strengthens the meaning of the ceremony and the message for which it stands.
Last but most certainly not least, there is our team of loyal and dedicated buglers and ceremonial assistants, who are here every night of the year, come rain or shine. Theirs is a record of dedication and service of which even the soldiers of 14-18 would have been proud.
Yet while this 90th anniversary ceremony quite rightly remembers with gratitude the contribution made by all these people and organizations over the years, it also marks the 90th anniversary of something even more important : It is the 90th anniversary of our organization’s, our city’s and our country’s daily act of remembrance in honour of the memory of those who died for our peace and our freedom.
The most important thing about the Last Post ceremony is not the people who organize it, or the people who make it possible, or even the people who attend it. The most important thing about the Last Post Ceremony are the names on these walls. And the names on every other memorial and on every headstone in war cemeteries around the world. It was their sacrifice that bought the fruits of peace that we still enjoy each day.
They are the reason we are here tonight. More, they are the reason that we are able to be here tonight, as free people in a free and united society. And they are the reason why will be here tomorrow night, and the night after that. Remembrance is not just for the 11th of November or for the period of the centenary commemorations. Remembrance is for all time, just as their sacrifice was for all time. We must not forget. We cannot afford to forget. With your continued support, the Last Post Association will do its best to ensure that we don’t.