That the 11th November 2018 fell on a Sunday was a miracle indeed! To be able to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, as shared all around the world, became the single objective of our society at its annual luncheon.
In order to tie-in precisely with the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the UK, our function commenced at 12.45pm. A welcome and introduction by the chairman was followed by the reading by Fiona Atkinson of the very evocative and touching poem “For The Fallen” culminating with the famous words:
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
This was followed by a prayer, the playing of The Last Post and a two minute silence to bring us to the exact moment at which the armistice had come into force 100 years before.
A sumptuous meal then followed. Notwithstanding the economic and financial miasma in which Zimbabwe finds itself, the buffet fare dished onto 120 members’ plates was excellent and enjoyed by all.
John McCarthy, the archivist at St George’s College and immediate past National Chairman of the Society then gave a quite exceptional illustrated talk! Whilst embracing some of the broader aspects of The Great War and the Armistice, the talk focused on those St George’s pupils who had flocked to join up between1914-1918. This was particularly poignant as a majority of those who bravely struck out to join the forces were killed in the bitter battles on the Western Front.
The culmination this fine talk was a further rendition of The Last Post and accompanying ceremony at the Menin Gate at Ypres in France. The emotion of the needless slaughter of so many fine men was not lost on any of us and many a tear was shed.
The grand finale to the occasion was a sing-song of many of the passionate and warm-hearted songs from the Great War. Zimbabwe’s foremost economist John Robertson tinkled away on the keyboard whilst two of our most accomplished singers, Margot Dennis and Dave Mills led the enthusiastic singing.
Centenaries of significant historical events always create their own remembrances and this was certainly one such occasion.