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Remembrance tribute by Deputy Grand Master
Saturday, November 11, 2017


We gather once again today to remember the fallen and to pay tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifice to protect this country and democracy around the world.

We are also here to pay tribute to the families of those who have lost loved ones and to let them know that they have our support. The men and women who wear the uniform of our armed forces, the police and other law enforcement agencies, do so with a pride that hides their true bravery.

It is an honour and privilege for me in my role as Deputy Grand Master to represent the Orange Institution on Armistice Day. In this ongoing decade of centenaries, our commemoration is particularly poignant, as we reflect on the courage and selflessness of those who fought and died during the First World War.

One hundred years later we think especially, this year, of those who bore arms at Vimy Ridge, Messines and at Passchendaele. In those three significant battles alone - in excess of 600,000 men were killed, wounded or missing in action presumed dead.

Many were members of this Institution who took their Orange ritual and tradition with them to the trenches; with some even wearing their sashes as they went over the top. Their heroism was equal to that of their peers, from all backgrounds and traditions, who fought valiantly in unison for King and country. Today, we remember and pay homage to them all.

It is also appropriate we pause and acknowledge the fallen of other Great War battles and those who paid the supreme sacrifice during the succeeding Second World War, and more recent conflicts. We recall all those who died in the service of the British Crown many thousands of miles away from home. Among them many Ulstermen and women, playing their part in the defence of our democratic way of life.

And we will never forget our murdered brethren. Those members of our Institution who donned the uniform of the Ulster Defence Regiment, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and other law enforcement agencies, who courageously and selflessly resisted the threat posed by armed terrorists during the darkest days of the Troubles. Many of our brethren were callously killed by republicans simply because they were Orangemen.

At this time of year their loss is all the more poignant and we think of their families and loved ones who still are denied the justice they so crave. As an Institution, they are assured of our enduring support in their legitimate quest for the truth.

On this the week of the 30th anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing, we think of those innocent civilians, including two Orangemen, murdered in the heinous IRA atrocity on Remembrance Sunday. We remember them and all the victims of terrorism.

We also owe a debt of gratitude to the personnel of the security forces, who despite facing a vicious campaign by those intent on genocide, ensured extremism did not prevail.

On this the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it is only right that we pause, reflect and remember all those who gave their today so we could have our tomorrow.

As we stand secure in their memory, we will never forget them and their sacrifice.

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