The words ‘God save our gracious King!’ rang out around the war memorial in the centre of Londonderry, this morning, for the first time in over 70 years, as local people gathered to remember servicemen and women who had died in past conflicts. The Rev Canon John Merrick, from St Columb’s Cathedral, led the Service of Remembrance in the Diamond, where he was joined by leaders of the four main Churches locally: the General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Rev Canon Dr Heather Morris; the Moderator of the Derry and Donegal Presbytery, Rev Graeme Orr; the Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr Donal McKeown; and the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster.
Among those who laid wreaths at the cenotaph were the King’s Vice Lord -Lieutenant for the County Borough of Londonderry, Ian Crowe; the High Sheriff for the County Borough of Londonderry, Paul Howie; East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell; Foyle MLA Gary Middleton; and members of Derry City and Strabane District Council.
After the ceremony, the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, led a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving at St Columb’s Cathedral, which was attended by the Vice Lord -Lieutenant; the Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Cllr Angela Dobbins; and the High Sheriff for the Borough.
During the Service, wreaths were laid at the Cathedral’s war memorial, followed by the playing of The Last Post.
The sermon was delivered by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, who described Remembrance Sunday as the “most solemn day of our annual calendar”. Bishop Andrew said he, personally, was remembering three people in particular: one grandfather, who served in. the First World War with the King’s Westminster Rifles; another grandfather, who served in the Home Guard during the Second World War; and a late uncle who served with distinction in the Royal Ulster Constabulaary.
The Bishop said the congregation’s remembrance was more than some annual, formal duty. “Rather,” he said, “it is a heartfelt obligation borne of admiration and borne of love, as in our remembrance – in some very small way – we pay the debt we owe to those who served us and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice that ensured that we can do what we do today, and live our everyday lives in peace and freedom.”
At the beginning of today’s Service, Dean Stewart informed the congregation that one of his predecessors as Dean of Derry and Rector of the Parish of Templemore, Very Rev Cecil Orr, had passed away on Friday evening and would be buried on Tuesday following a Funeral Service in Saint Columb’s Cathedral.