Mayor Mashaba leads Remembrance Day Ceremony
Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba on Sunday November 13 led a national remembrance and wreath-laying ceremony in tribute to people who died during World War 1 and other armed conflicts around the world.
Joined by Speaker Vasco da Gama and other dignitaries, Mayor Mashaba stood on the steps of the Gauteng Legislature as war veterans and families observed in silence members of the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force, as well as scouts, marching along Harrison Street towards the memorial site at Beyers Naude Square.
Remembrance Day is commemorated internationally each year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – when World War 1 officially ended in 1918. More than 200 000 white, African and coloured South Africans took part in the war as combatants or non-combatants. Because of segregation, blacks were only allowed to serve as labourers and were prohibited from carrying arms. By the end of the war about 12 500 South Africans had been killed.
Trevor Wright, Chief Warrant Officer of the South African Army Reserves, said it was important to always remember those who died to remind the world that wars and conflicts were not a solution to differences. He said the day also sent a message that the human race had overcome some of the most challenging moments in history.
“We pay tribute and remember those who paid the ultimate price to give us peace and stability we enjoy today,” Wright said.
Florence Suping, whose grandfather died while serving in the war, said this day was a reminder to her family of the sacrifice he had made. This year she brought along her grandchildren as a tribute to her late father, “who for years always took time to celebrate the life of a father he never got to see”.
“We should continue to celebrate and remember the contribution of black soldiers and those who joined the army. They should be honoured just like white soldiers and given the status they deserve,” Suping said.
After a short prayer, Mashaba laid the first wreath and was followed by dignitaries from across the country and the world. Military representatives from Spain, Brazil and other countries also laid wreaths to remember their fallen heroes. The event ended when families were invited to place their own wreaths and remember their love ones.
The occasion was also used to remember people who died during the Anglo-Boer War and other armed conflicts.