Daniel Yates: Joining together to mark an important centenary

Cllr Daniel Yates
Cllr Daniel Yates

It was an honour last weekend to attend the annual interfaith memorial service for Indian Army soldiers killed in First World War, which is held at the Chattri, high up on the Downs overlooking our city.

As a place the Chattri is both beautiful and serene, acting as a reminder of the sacrifices of those who fought a war many thousands of miles from home and for which they paid the ultimate price.

As an event it was truly moving to hear family stories of loss and the impact of the First World War, but even more to see the broad sweep of people attending. From across the south of England families and communities joined city residents and faith and civic leaders to pay respects and to mark the centenary of 1918 when hostilities ceased.

It is something to celebrate that from across communities and across decades several hundreds of us made our way along footpaths to this remote spot on the Downs to mark this event and to pay our respects.

The impacts of their lives and deaths will not be forgotten.

Moreover the effect of the ceremony itself in bringing together such a broad range of communities and people in both supporting the event and attending the event gives only hope.

Despite many devastating conflicts in the intervening years, the world is a more tolerant, welcoming and connected place than it was when many thousands of soldiers from undivided India journeyed to support the war effort during 1914 to 1918.

I hope also that the city of Brighton and Hove is even more welcoming and open than the towns which welcomed wounded servicemen during those years and after. Not that we weren’t welcoming of course. But there is never any harm in trying to improve and enhance our city’s reputation for tolerance and respect.

The many people attending this year is a tribute to the leadership of those organising the memorial service.

I would hope that each year we can see those numbers swell further, so that we can all pay our respects and try to ensure that the legacy of that war, and of all wars, is an end to conflict.

Cllr Daniel Yates is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.