Headmasters Blog

Remembering Sacrifices

This Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the armistice that ended The Great War in 1918. It was exactly 100 years ago in November, the 11th month and at the 11th hour on the 11th day that World War I ended.  Germany signed an armistice, an agreement that peace would prevail and that fighting would cease. This had been prepared by Britain and France.

At the time this was seen as the first step towards worldwide peace and the end to all world wars. It was a time of hope, a time of celebration but also a time to remember the sacrifices others have made to allow us to be in the position we are in today.

Acknowledging sacrifice is a concept that we can carry with us throughout all facets of life, whether that be through thanking your parents for getting up at 4am three times a week to take you to rowing training so that you can improve, or remembering all the hours your teachers put in to help you improve when you receive outstanding exam results. No matter who you are, your success and your happiness are usually never all of your own doing. Everyone gets help, everyone needs support and without others in our lives we wouldn't achieve anywhere near our potential. We often get so caught up in our destination, that we actually forget how we got there, we forget everything that had to line up for us to be in our current position.

This Remembrance Day we reflect on the soldiers who have sacrificed themselves so that we can live safe and prosperous lives compared to many others across the globe. I feel that the best way to appreciate others' sacrifices is to try to put ourselves in their shoes. This poem, taken from the diary of Australian Soldier Henry Weston Pryce, offers me some perspective on what the soldiers of WWI went through and the relief that the armistice brought 100 years ago.

The Armistice

The echoes die, the smoke-clouds thin and pass,
The cannons are, like statues, dumb and cold:
Silent the crosses wait, and in the grass
The spent shells gleam like gold.

All spent he lay and dreamed till the moment came:
Now, waking with a cry, he looks, all wonder
To see the empty sky hurl down no flame:
To hear no crack of thunder.
- Henry Weston Pryce, 11 November 1918.

Whilst It may not allow us to fully appreciate the feelings of soldiers at that time it does give us a glimpse into how tough things must have been for them. To be so excited and relieved by silence and peace shows how horrific the war was and gives us an appreciation of the sacrifice they made for our country. So, on this Remembrance Day I urge all members of the Scotch community to thank those who have sacrificed so much for us on the battlefield and in our everyday life.

Silence and contemplation are something we need to find more time for in our day to day lives. It is within silence that we can find true solitude and reflection.

At this time of reflecting on Remembrance Day, I recommend you pay a visit to our Scotch Heritage Centre and the respective displays in the renovated Memorial Hall which pays respect to past Scotch students and staff who served both in the First and Second World Wars. It is a great addition to our College and demonstrates our acknowledgment of sacrifice from those who graced our very halls and fields at Scotch.

Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.

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