MOSSEL BAY NEWS - There are about 20 000 South African soldiers dead since 1914 – and counting….
This is why you should know about Remembrance Day.
Shortly after World War I (1914-1918), reminiscing on the loss of his eldest son James Percy Fitzpatrick who died on December 14, 1917 in Beaumetz, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, who had the ear of King George V, proposed a two-minute silent remembrance for all the soldiers that had succumbed to the war. One minute was to be set aside to remember the soldiers who had died and one minute of gratitude for the soldiers who survived and were able to return home.
This, he suggested, should be done annually on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate the formal ending to the war which took place on 11 November 1918.
Agreeing to this, King George V declared that the first Remembrance Day was to be held on 11 November 1919.
In South Africa, Remembrance Day is commemorated on the closest Sunday to the 11 November each year. In Mossel Bay the MOTHs (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) of the Blaize Away Shellhole get together at the war memorial at the Point to commemorate this day.
The MOTH is an organisation for ex-servicemen, providing an opportunity for them to connect with others who have served together in war and to protect the interest of war veterans and their families.
Comradeship, mutual help, sound memory
As an organisation it is not influenced by race, religion or politics but rather stands for three ideals, which include true comradeship, mutual help and sound memory.
Various people who perform civil services (firefighters, police, army, traffic officers and more), scouts, Freemasons, MOTHs and even some civilians come together annually to remember and mourn the fallen.
They bring wreaths to lay at the base of the Cenotaph war memorial at the Point in Mossel Bay and pin poppies to their chests, an important symbol of Remembrance Day.
The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance came to be after a poem written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, In Flanders Field, written in 1915. Poppies grew in abundance in Flanders Field, a site where over 600 000 soldiers from more than 50 countries died in WWI.
It is important to understand that Remembrance Day is not only about remembering those lost in WWI and WWII, but rather to remember every single life that has been lost in war since the start of WWI through to today.
South African soldiers have fought in sixteen wars around the world in recent history.
This year Remembrance Day will be held on 15 November at 11:00 at the war memorial at the Point in Mossel Bay.
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