Sometimes the elements seem to join in our rituals enhancing the human emotions. Yesterday a moving ceremony at the Knox War Memorial in the Boronia Arboretum was followed by a storm of howling wind, drenching rain and lashing hailstones. The spring
garden lawns quickly turned to mud. A glimpse of soldiers, in World War One uniforms, splashing through mud, brought to mind all those photos of Flanders mud.
The occasion was the first of many ceremonies that will mark the centenary of the First World War, declared on 4 August 1914. By 1 November the first convoy of enthusiastic enlistees sailed from Albany in Western Australia for the Middle East.
The focus of Saturday’s ceremony was the redesigned War Memorial to all those who served their country from what is now the City of Knox. A feature is the new Honour Roll of bronze plaques listing the names of those who died in service.
The former Governor General, Major General Michael Jeffery gave the keynote address and placed the first of the many wreaths. Federal MP for Aston Alan Tudge read the roll of names while Pipe Major Mark Saul played the lament. The catafalque party was from HMAS Cerberus.
In his speech Mr Tudge thanked all those who had worked for the last two years to bring about the new memorial and this centenary event. There was special mention of the families of Sergeant Brett Wood MG DSM and Private Benjamin Rinaudi who died fighting in Afghanistan. Guests included many returned soldiers, often accompanied by young family members.
I thought of my mother’s brother who was captured on Ambon in World War Two and survived to return home after years as a prisoner of the Japanese. How many of us have family lives damaged by the effects of war! One hopes this beautiful memorial place,
and the many forthcoming commemorations of the centenary, will give pause to any acceleration of conflict between nations today.
May those who have died rest in peace and may we learn to bring peace not war out of our differences.