Remembering the World War II veterans

Manager in medical services at the children's hospital, Dr Anita Parbhoo, with her wreath.

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital held their annual Remembrance Day ceremony on Friday November 8, to commemorate the South African World War II veterans who donated a portion of their earnings to start the children’s hospital.

Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the World War I on Monday November 11, 1918, at 11am – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The event was attended by more than 200 people, including hospital management, members of The Children’s Hospital Trust, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTHS), the South African (SA) Legion, SA World War II veterans, faith-based organisations and dignitaries.

Manager in medical services at the children’s hospital, Dr Anita Parbhoo, says the veterans who donated two days of their pay towards to what was to become the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital wanted to create a living memorial in honour of their fallen comrades.

“Because of their vision, this children’s hospital became a world-class hospital which became a cornerstone of paediatric healthcare on the African continent.

Former Minister of Finance and current chairperson of Old Mutual, Trevor Manuel, says it is important to acknowledge the horrors of war and the contribution made by the war veterans for the children’s hospital.

He said that today the children’s hospital is faced with helping patients who suffer from malnutrition, foetal alcohol syndrome, drug abuse by young children and children who are victims of violence and sexual abuse.

“I am advocating that the organisation of volunteers be health activists, I am advocating for strong emphasis on quality of life, I am also advocating for The Children’s Hospital Trust to continue in their efforts to raise more money for this institution,” he said.

Mr Manuel says even though the children’s hospital is a public hospital, the government can only do so much and they need more citizen involvement to support the institution.

Remembrance Day started off with marches by sentries , members of the MOTHS and the Nelson Mandela Artillery Pipes and Drums group who played the Highland Cathedral song. The Isivunguvungu Youth Band also played hymns, including Abide With Me and the national anthem.

After all the speeches the bombardier Regan Daniels played Last Post while the flags were lowered after which everyone stood for an two minutes of silence, and the flags were raised to the call of the reveille.

There was also a wreath-laying ceremony at the Peter Pan statue at the main entrance of the children’s hospital, which dignitaries, hospital staff, members of MOTHS, SA Legion members, war veterans and their families as well as the public could take part in.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson says it is important to memorialise what has happened in the past, the people who made sacrifices and those who survived the World Wars and who contributed to where we are today.

“The children’s hospital came out of their sacrifices and it is a great thing for our city and for Africa.”

Executive member of the SA Legion, Peter Muirhead, says the SA World War II veterans left a legacy when they gave part of their pay to help start the children’s hospital.

“It is up to us to keep on remembering that and ensure that it continues.”