WW1 100th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony and Symposium

A discussion between a speaker and a guest

Singapore History Consultants (SHC) and The Changi Museum (CM) jointly organised a World War I centennial remembrance ceremony and symposium, along with co-organisers the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) and the History Department of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The event was held on 4 August 2014, and began with the remembrance ceremony in the morning, and ran through to the afternoon with the symposium.

It was a fine morning as invited guests and representatives from four Commonwealth nations (The United Kingdom, Australia, India and New Zealand) gathered at the Cenotaph on Connaught Drive. In a simple yet dignified ceremony, guests heard a speech by Mr Jeya Ayadurai of SHC and CM, explaining the context and purpose of the event, three readings of selected poems (Pericles Eulogy read by Phil McConnell of the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELiS); For the Fallen read by Mr Razeen Chan of SHC; and In Flanders Fields read by Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Doyle of the Australian High Commission); with SCC’s Club Historian, Mr Steve Thompson, as the Master of Ceremony. The event and the laying of the wreaths, done to commemorate and honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war, particularly those 124 who had been resident in Singapore, were to the accompaniment of The Last Post by two Gurkha buglers and The Lament by the two Gurkha bagpipers.

Upon returning to the SCC, the symposium kicked off with opening remarks from Professor Brian Farrell, Head of the History Department at NUS. The symposium presented a day of discussion revolving around selected topics that challenged participants to consider some of the shadows and legacies of the conflict which changed the course of world history, as well as the connections between our past and our present and the threads that link the two. This discussion was facilitated by four presentations from keynote speakers: Professor Brian Farrell, Dr Maitrii Aung Thwin (History Department, NUS), Mr Phil McConnell (ELiS) and Mr Jeya Ayadurai (SHC & CM).

The participation during the symposium was a pleasure to witness; it was clear that the general public had been moved and informed by what they had seen and learned on the day, and this made even more worthwhile the long term commitment and drive of staff members and speakers alike. The continued fervour in discussion of the topics raised during the symposium afterwards in the Cricket Club bar was a hearty signal of a job well done.

What made this event so very unique and interesting, is the fact that it was the only one of its kind in Singapore; no other event had been organised to mark the anniversary of the centennial of World War I, and no other event has studied, or even acknowledged, the presence and effect of World War I in Singapore. The often overlooked, but nonetheless vital role, of the region, and the effects of the Great War in the region, are both notable. Hence, a further objective of the ceremony and symposium was to make aware and enlighten the general public that Singaporean history dates back much further than 1965, and to remind them of the fact that we are links in a chain of history, and that no one link would be where it is without the others.

 

Click here to view the photos of the event.

Click here to view media coverage of the event.


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