Remembrance Service Speech

Remembrance Service Speech – Saturday November 7th, 2015. Mr Simon Brewer, O.C. Chair of the Clifton College Development Trust   Good Morning. How many are here today in this Chapel do you think – around 500? But on some occasions in the year it is full to bursting – with over 900 people. And as with today that means friends to the left of you, to the right of you, fellow pupils, in front and behind. Now can you picture all of them gone? An empty Chapel. Well, that is the number of Cliftonians who lay down their lives in the wars from 1870 to today, to help give us our freedom. And here we are here today, to recognise, remember and thank them for their extraordinary sacrifice. If we go back to 1900, to the end of the Victorian era. This was a time when England was relatively calm and untroubled….like the scenes from the first episode of Downton Abbey In the opening of that lovely book, The Go Between, also set in 1900, LP Hartley an Old Cliftonian himself wrote…“The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” And for those who sat here at that time in those early years of the school– as you boys and girls do today, many felt a sense of adventure when war was discussed… Winston Churchill quipped at this time – “there is nothing in life more exhilarating than to be shot at without being hit”. Those were the 19th century wars, where the fighting spirit was captured by Sir Henry Newbolt, the Old Cliftonian, whose poem Vitai Lampada contains those often repeated words of “Play up, play up and play the game” – a poem kept in the top pockets of many soldiers as they went into battle. Pupils at Clifton & the other great schools like Wellington, Marlborough, Harrow, thought of war with a sense of excitement, expectation, But of typically returning safely. And yet it was to change dramatically with the First World War. This started on 4th August 191, and it ushered in a new and brutal type of war. Men mown down by machine gun- bombs, grenades, mass deaths and devastation. The first British soldier to be killed in WW1 was Private John Parr- the youngest of 7 children….he lied about his age to join the army at 16..he was killed on the 21st of August 1914.. The last British soldier to be killed 4 years later was Private George Ellison, a 40 year old coal miner from Leeds, just an hour and a half before the Armistice, or peace treaty was signed. BETWEEN those 2 deaths over 800,000 British soldiers died 3,100 OCs served in that war and 578 were killed. An Australian Edward Honey first suggested the 2 minute silence be observed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month each year in memory of those who died serving their countries. And after that dreadful conflict it was hoped that would be the end of such horror, but within 25 years and rising from the ashes of the First World War settlements, came a new and very different enemy in the shape of Adolf Hitler. The OCs, the Clifton teachers, the parents of Cliftonians, who fought Hitler, knew they faced a truly evil enemy. Had he won, he would have forced his twisted and evil view on Britain. His success would have meant no freedom of expression, or argument, or tolerance…no room for Jewish, Muslim, Handicapped, of children of mixed race, but instead brutal and horrible rule. Not all wars are that black or white, but the decision by those who have given their lives, to fight evil forces, whatever its appearance, is heroic. And in the Second World War those sacrifices were as relevant for the French, and in their even greater numbers the Russians, and of course for those Germans, forced to fight in a war that was not of their making. 8 Victoria Crosses have been awarded to OCs. And more recently as war has changed in form and it is conducted against different enemies- Taleban fanatics, Al Queada cells, and now a new enemy in ISIL. And as we pause and reflect on these sacrifices by Old Cliftonians, two things come to my mind. First is this school. If those soldiers could time travel from the battlefields of WW1, and find themselves standing by the pavilion, 100 years on, what would they see? They would look across the close, at this Chapel, the Wilson tower, the Quad, and little would have changed. They would look at these great and familiar buildings, and probably feel comforted by the calm magnificent view, and they would see the continued mission of children being educated in and out of the classrooms, by teachers who care, helping teach standards and principles that should set you all well for your journeys ahead. And they would know their sacrifices had been worthwhile. And in an age when we all want immediate rewards, quick fixes and we often care too much for the superficial and sensational…. It is important to think about us helping others. You are all part of a great school, with great traditions and a long line of boys and girls who sat where you now sit now, with similar hopes and dreams, and who like you, will make a difference to the world in the future. So it seems at this time of remembrance weekend, we carry two emotions- On the one hand we recognise, thank and appreciate the extraordinary sacrifice made by so many brave servicemen and women… And on the other hand we must also hope that such conflicts can be kept to a minimum. In the closing lines of the book “The Boy in the striped pyjamas”, a story about the 8 year son of a German Commandant at Auschwitz, who befriends a Jewish boy, the author finishes “And that’s the end of the story about Bruno and his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again…not in this day and age.” Yet to expect no conflicts would be to believe the world has changed.That would be unwise and being prepared with a well-trained and well equipped Army, Navy & Airforce is the price we must pay for trying to protect our freedom. So in Conclusion- Let us thank God that there have been so many prepared to lay down their lives, when required, allowing us the freedom to live the lives we do. We are so grateful for their bravery and selflessness…. as we are for Jesus who also made the ultimate sacrifice. Remembrance Service Speech – Saturday November 7th, 2015. Mr Simon Brewer, O.C. Chair of the Clifton College Development Trust   Good Morning. How many are here today in this Chapel do you think – around 500? But on some occasions in the year it is full to bursting – with over 900 people. And as with today that means friends to the left of you, to the right of you, fellow pupils, in front and behind. Now can you picture all of them gone? An empty Chapel. Well, that is the number of Cliftonians who lay down their lives in the wars from 1870 to today, to help give us our freedom. And here we are here today, to recognise, remember and thank them for their extraordinary sacrifice. If we go back to 1900, to the end of the Victorian era. This was a time when England was relatively calm and untroubled….like the scenes from the first episode of Downton Abbey In the opening of that lovely book, The Go Between, also set in 1900, LP Hartley an Old Cliftonian himself wrote…“The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” And for those who sat here at that time in those early years of the school– as you boys and girls do today, many felt a sense of adventure when war was discussed… Winston Churchill quipped at this time – “there is nothing in life more exhilarating than to be shot at without being hit”. Those were the 19th century wars, where the fighting spirit was captured by Sir Henry Newbolt, the Old Cliftonian, whose poem Vitai Lampada contains those often repeated words of “Play up, play up and play the game” – a poem kept in the top pockets of many soldiers as they went into battle. Pupils at Clifton & the other great schools like Wellington, Marlborough, Harrow, thought of war with a sense of excitement, expectation, But of typically returning safely. And yet it was to change dramatically with the First World War. This started on 4th August 191, and it ushered in a new and brutal type of war. Men mown down by machine gun- bombs, grenades, mass deaths and devastation. The first British soldier to be killed in WW1 was Private John Parr- the youngest of 7 children….he lied about his age to join the army at 16..he was killed on the 21st of August 1914.. The last British soldier to be killed 4 years later was Private George Ellison, a 40 year old coal miner from Leeds, just an hour and a half before the Armistice, or peace treaty was signed. BETWEEN those 2 deaths over 800,000 British soldiers died 3,100 OCs served in that war and 578 were killed. An Australian Edward Honey first suggested the 2 minute silence be observed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month each year in memory of those who died serving their countries. And after that dreadful conflict it was hoped that would be the end of such horror, but within 25 years and rising from the ashes of the First World War settlements, came a new and very different enemy in the shape of Adolf Hitler. The OCs, the Clifton teachers, the parents of Cliftonians, who fought Hitler, knew they faced a truly evil enemy. Had he won, he would have forced his twisted and evil view on Britain. His success would have meant no freedom of expression, or argument, or tolerance…no room for Jewish, Muslim, Handicapped, of children of mixed race, but instead brutal and horrible rule. Not all wars are that black or white, but the decision by those who have given their lives, to fight evil forces, whatever its appearance, is heroic. And in the Second World War those sacrifices were as relevant for the French, and in their even greater numbers the Russians, and of course for those Germans, forced to fight in a war that was not of their making. 8 Victoria Crosses have been awarded to OCs. And more recently as war has changed in form and it is conducted against different enemies- Taleban fanatics, Al Queada cells, and now a new enemy in ISIL. And as we pause and reflect on these sacrifices by Old Cliftonians, two things come to my mind. First is this school. If those soldiers could time travel from the battlefields of WW1, and find themselves standing by the pavilion, 100 years on, what would they see? They would look across the close, at this Chapel, the Wilson tower, the Quad, and little would have changed. They would look at these great and familiar buildings, and probably feel comforted by the calm magnificent view, and they would see the continued mission of children being educated in and out of the classrooms, by teachers who care, helping teach standards and principles that should set you all well for your journeys ahead. And they would know their sacrifices had been worthwhile. And in an age when we all want immediate rewards, quick fixes and we often care too much for the superficial and sensational…. It is important to think about us helping others. You are all part of a great school, with great traditions and a long line of boys and girls who sat where you now sit now, with similar hopes and dreams, and who like you, will make a difference to the world in the future. So it seems at this time of remembrance weekend, we carry two emotions- On the one hand we recognise, thank and appreciate the extraordinary sacrifice made by so many brave servicemen and women… And on the other hand we must also hope that such conflicts can be kept to a minimum. In the closing lines of the book “The Boy in the striped pyjamas”, a story about the 8 year son of a German Commandant at Auschwitz, who befriends a Jewish boy, the author finishes “And that’s the end of the story about Bruno and his family. Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again…not in this day and age.” Yet to expect no conflicts would be to believe the world has changed.That would be unwise and being prepared with a well-trained and well equipped Army, Navy & Airforce is the price we must pay for trying to protect our freedom. So in Conclusion- Let us thank God that there have been so many prepared to lay down their lives, when required, allowing us the freedom to live the lives we do. We are so grateful for their bravery and selflessness…. as we are for Jesus who also made the ultimate sacrifice.