The Cumnock Chronicle
10th October 1947

From the Cumnock Chronicle of the 10th October 1947.

New Cumnock


BRITISH LEGION


UNVEILING AT WAR MEMORIAL

Favoured with an ideal autumn afternoon, and in the presence of a large number of the general public, the unveiling of the names on the War Memorial of the New Cumnock lads killed in the 1939 – 1945 war, which have been added to the list of names of those who perished in the 1914 – 1918 war, took place on Sunday last.

The British Legion, and the various youth organisations, comprising Rover Scouts, Scouts, Cubs, Boys’ Brigade, Life Boys, Girls’ Guildry, Greenwoods, and Girls’ and Boys’ Clubs, paraded from the school to the cemetery, where the service commenced with the singing of the 124th Psalm, “ Now Israel May Say,” the praise being led by the Martyrs’ Church choir. Thereafter, the Rev A. Burnett engaged in prayer. After the lesson had been read by Haddow Nisbet, the Rev Wm. Bodin M.A., former minister of Martyrs’ Church, delivered a most moving address.

Mr Bodin said:-
“I am proud to be here today. With many of you, my mind runs back to that day 27 years ago, when we unveiled this memorial, and although my heart is heavy, it is the heaviness of a grief that you share with me.

I think it is meet and fitting that the names of our sons should be inscribed on this stone; that those who bore them should be so honourably and lastingly associated with those others of a generation ago whose names are written, with theirs, on our hearts, who, so brief a time ago, it seems, laid their young lives on the altar of sublime sacrifice – they died that we might live. Whatever the faults, the errors, the sins that made the first war possible, and, ultimately, inevitable, these boys of our boyhood years went to their death with clean hands and pure hearts. They were not warriors. They were just children of their age, caught in the hurricane of savage events. And so I invite you, my friends, drawn close to my heart today because, as fully as any person can, I share your grief, I invite you to remember, with me, our loved ones whose memory we cherish, and hand on; whose loss we bitterly deplore. To whomsoever the guilt of this more recent conflict may belong, of carelessness, of calculated selfishness, of diabolic and rapacious design, these boys were guiltless. They too went to their death for us, with clean hands and pure hearts.

If their death is to be something more than utter loss, if their sacrifice is not to be in vain, our memory of them must be a living power. I deprecate, with all the energy of my soul, the association of our sons’ sacrifice with any human political policy or any merely human design, whether it be of right or of left, or of any colour or hue. it is because human purposes, merely human purposes, so readily become cross-purposes and clash, that the picture of the world today is one of strife and frustration and fear.

I believe if those, in whose memory we stand here, could speak from the superior height in which they live who are not dead, their messages would be of something higher than man’s cleverness, of whose failures all history is eloquent. I would express it here on the banks of the Afton, where we stand, in terms of the vision of him who turned the whisper of this stream into song, the vision of a day when “man to man the world o’er, would brithers be for a’ that”. But their message would be of the great brotherhood, in which alone is the hope of this weary, storm tossed world, the great brotherhood of all men with Jesus of Nazareth, in the fatherhood of our God who is a God of Love. The world is broken and weary because too many of us are prodigal sons, who among the passions and self indulgences of life do not rise up and turn back to our Father. Man, for his ills, has tried everything throughout history, except Christ.

I shall go from here, turn back to my city home, with heart and spirit enriched because of our association together today. I shall carry the beauty of this monument in my heart, the beauty of the thought that around my son’s name, and your loved ones’ names the immortal music of this stream will whisper night and day, night and day until the erosion of the years will wear away the stone.

I would propound a parable – since I lived here there have been many changes – among these man has dammed the headwaters of this stream that from stored reservoirs the pure cool waters might flow, unfailing to carry fresh life into homes and hearts of men.

Let us make reservoirs of these our blessed memories, to keep our hearts pure to refresh our spirits and to keep us near to God always, so that in the hurly burly of life, down the devious ways, we shall not break faith with those who died. It is only with God that we can keep the faith.

We recall, at such a time as this, how youth spoke from the stricken fields of France in World War One


“And now from failing hands we throw the torch,
Be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
Though poppies blow in Flanders’ fields”

The crosses row by row, mark the graves of these, our loved ones, across the whole world. They lie in the jungle, and in the desert; in the endless oceans deep they found their rest. But today the lives run home to you and to me; the lives of love and of challenge meet in our hearts.

The world is what it is today, because we have not kept faith in those who died for us. We have not kept faith in the spirit of their sacrifice.

A famous South African statesman the other day said “We speak about the economic crisis, there is no economic crisis; the crisis is a moral and spiritual crisis”

That is true my friends. If men and women who in the next few days will wear the poppy in their coats, were to turn back into life in a new spirit of Christian service and self dedication, the shadows of crisis and fear would begin to scatter and pass away from life; not because some political or economic genius had discovered some panacea for human ills, but just because simple, perhaps humble people, like you and me, had turned back to God, our Father.

Little did we dream 27 years ago, who set this stone in memory of our fathers and brothers, that today we should write on it the names of our sons. We left it then for the world to change, for someone else to work a miracle, and we ourselves did little enough about it. I appeal to you, my friends, to turn back into life from this hour with serious minds and sober hearts – the change must begin in you.

It is only with God that we shall be enabled to keep this faith.

Bugler Dalziell then sounded the Last Post and Reveille, and pipers played “The Flowers o’ the Forest”. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Mrs Wm. Hose and this was followed by one minute’s silence. Beautiful wreaths were placed at the base of the memorial by the British Legion, by both men’s and women’s sections, Scouts, Cycling Club, Girls’ Guildry and Greenwoods, Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Club and by members of the general public.

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