Sharing collective memory

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WE are grateful for the stories of local history we get from various sources, which help our collective memory of the past.

One example this week is the story of the original Cuylerville cricket field, which was recently memorialised with a plaque marking the spot where batsmen, bowlers and fielders first played in 1892.

The story was kindly provided to us by the owner of the land, Colin Fletcher, who related some anecdotes from his own youth playing cricket there, and who recalled the stories who were passed onto him by older generations.

TotT’s Serendipity columnist Bev Young has become our informal custodian of local history, spreading titbits and anecdotes, accompanied by a treasure trove of old photographs, to a wider audience than the people who might care to venture into one of the local museums.

Young is doing a sterling job, but she too relies on the shared memories of others, of people still living who experienced the events of the past, or others who have accumulated information and written historical books and articles.

Another example of historical reflection which younger generations need to appreciate and add to their collective memory is the annual commemoration of days like Remembrance Day, which was first established to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day at the end of World War I, and remember the fallen soldiers in that “war to end all wars”.

It subsequently was also used to remember the soldiers who gave their lives in World War II and every conflict since then, from the Korean War to the border wars in Namibia and Angola.

And in our post-apartheid society, with reconciliation being an ongoing challenge, it is good that Remembrance Day is for all who died, on either sides of these conflicts.

A few years ago it was heartening to see former mayor Sipho Tandani become the first black mayor to attend a Remembrance Day service in Port Alfred, and others since then. The Moths appreciated having him there, and Tandani paid homage in his own way, raising his fist in salute at the last post and reveille.

We hope our new mayor also attends these memorial services in future.

The Moths are aging and their ranks are dwindling. It will be up to younger generations to remember these things, that people fought and died and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and people, sometimes in just causes and sometimes in unjust causes. But they were all human, with loved ones who lived with the sorrow of their passing.

– Jon Houzet

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