The annual Jeppe High School for Boys Remembrance Service took on special significance this year because it marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I on 11th November 1918.
There were one or two additions to the programme, including the telling of the story of one particular old boy who died in World War II, and the recounting of the fate of the SS Mendi, the ship that was sunk in 1917 with 600 black South African soldiers on board.
Journalist Fred Khumalo told the moving story of the Mendi, and laid a wreath in memory of the men who did that day.
Travis Kroggel retold the story of Robert George Hamilton, a Jeppe old boy who died in Poland in World War II when his plane was shot down.
The event organiser, Mr Rob Faltemeier, explained that while the theme of the day is a military one – commemorating those who were killed in various wars – it actually goes beyond that. “The aim is to honour the sacrifices made, but not to glorify war in any way,” he said. “In the end it is right to acknowledge those who died, but the real aim is to ensure that these things don’t happen again.”
The Jeppe Remembrance Service, while it involves the pipe band and a parade, is primarily a religious service. This year it was conducted by Father Anthony Egan of Wits University and it incorporated the customary reading of the role of honour by the headmaster.
Wreaths were laid at the War Memorial on behalf of various organisations associated with the school, and at the Scottish Horse Memorial on the ridge – marking the school’s commitment to the Kensington community.
It was, as always, a deeply moving occasion.