Association President

MALTA REMEMBERS.

“WITHOUT A CLEAR MEMORY OF THE PAST, ONE CANNOT MOVE FORWARD. THE MEMORY THAT BORE WITNESS TO THE HORRORS OF WAR MUST SURVIVE. WHAT WE FORGET WE RISK REPEATING. BUT IF WE REMEMBER WHAT HAS BEEN DONE, WE CAN GROW.” 

These were the words Archbishop Charles Scicluna addressed to the congregation of Malta’s leaders and members of the armed forces, the police as well as the Royal British Legion at the annual High Mass commemorating the dead of the two World Wars,  in Valletta’s St. John’s Co-Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday.

The Mass, which was only open to a restricted congregation because of Covid19 measures, was preceded by a contingent of the Armed Forces of Malta taking post outside the Cathedral to be inspected by Malta’s President, Dr. George Vella on his arrival for the service. The Band and Guard of Honour was purposely limited in numbers to allow the keeping of social distance in the limited space available in the square fronting the Co-Cathedral. 

Drawing a parallel between what befell the Island in the two World Wars and the present war against a dreadful, invisible but aggressive enemy, the Archbishop called upon the authorities to meet their responsibility to protect the public and to ensure that fatalities as a result of the virus  be kept at a minimum.

At 11am a round fired from a 25-pounder field gun, dating from WWII, signalled a period of two minutes silence for the restricted group of dignitaries and veterans gathered in front of the War Memorial outside the city walls. The customary wreath laying was followed by a low-level fly-past by one of the AFM’S Air Wing search and rescue helicopters. No poppies were dropped over the site this year in keeping with the toned-down level of the commemoration. 

   
 
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 At 11am on November 11, a similarly restricted gathering at the Saluting Battery of the Upper Barrakka marked the hour, the day and the month when the guns fell silent in 1918. This event which is organised by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, Malta’s Heritage Foundation, was led by The Right Reverend  Canon Simon Godfrey, Chancellor of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Valletta. One of the Battery’s Victorian guns signalled the two-minute silence and brought it to a close. Wreaths were then laid by members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Armed Forces, and Veteran organisations. The ceremony was witnessed by a small crowd looking down from Barrakka Gardens above the Battery.

The site, overlooking one of the world’s most bombed harbours, brings back somber images of battered merchantmen and naval escorts reaching Malta after running the gauntlet of attacks by enemy aircraft, warships and submarines through waters infested with minefields during the three year-long siege . It is indeed a fitting backdrop to this poignant commemoration. 
  
 
 
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                                         “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
                                                               We will remember them.”  


(all photographs courtesy of Times of Malta, photographer Matthew Mirabelli and Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna)


Joseph Galea Debono.
PRESIDENT,
GEORGE CROSS ISLAND ASSOCIATION. 


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