Back in history: Fallen heroes honoured

Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara is being escorted after opening the memorial chapel. Picture: FT FILE

The sacrifices of our forefathers during the first two world wars and the Malayan campaign has allowed us to live peacefully in this country we call home.

This was the message conveyed during a Remembrance Day event. Eight hundred men were drafted for the Malayan campaign and 775 returned home.

A report in The Fiji Times on November 11, 1973, stated Fiji’s fallen heroes should be constantly thought about as we had a lot to be grateful for.

The article said former prime minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was at the Royal Fiji Military Forces at Queen Elizabeth Barracks for the remembrance parade and the opening of the military chapel.

He said it was a fitting amalgamation of events.

“Qualities of discipline, dedication and sacrifice were needed as much in building a new nation as in the time of war,” Ratu Mara said.

“Their service could best be remembered by emulating their example and serving the country today.”

The white chapel building, a simple structure building with a tall concrete cross at the front, formed the backdrop to the Fijian ceremonies of welcome for the PM.

The chapel, apart from the memorial, was to become the local centre of worship for soldiers.

Ratu Sir Kamisese led the guest to the chapel building, where he received the key to the building. At the request of the RFMF, former servicemen went to the barracks to hold their parade there instead of in Suva City, as they normally did.

The senior chaplain to the RFMF, the Rev Josateki Koroi, conducted the dedication service.

Mr Koroi and the president of the Methodist church, the Rev Stanley Andrews, performed the act of dedication. Several hundred former servicemen stood outside the chapel during the service because there was not enough room for them inside.

The parade and wreath-laying took place after the service, as a 25lb field gun fired to signify the beginning of the two-minute silence.

Meanwhile, 24 returned servicemen took part in the Remembrance Day parade at Lautoka.

They marched from Shirley Park and along Vitogo Pde into Churchill Park with a police detachment, scouts, guides and the Second Battalion of the RFMF Band.

Lieutenant Emori Tudia commanded the parade, and the Coronation Church Choir led the singing.

The Commissioner Western, Major Jesoni Takala, Mayor Hari Punja and the Tui Vuda, Ratu Josaia Tavaiqia, were among those who laid wreaths.

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