They Shall Never Grow Old
In a small church that has been remodeled into an overnight accommodation just outside Mooi River in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa is a cemetery.
In this cemetery is a bench with a dedication to a young man killed on 23 September 1918 and buried in Windmill Cemetery, Monchy-Le-Preux, France.
Killed-in-action just six weeks before the end of the war, Simmons is one of many who has been memorialized on a scale never before seen, from the horrors of a war that was never before seen.
His family were obviously very important within their church community – they donated two of the beautiful stained glass windows and are commemorated there.
But Simmons was not the only local casualty in that war. The church also features a plaque dedicated to those young members of their congregation who were sent to fight thousands of miles from home.
Memorials to those who fought in this first modern war can be seen all over the world. While they were a reaction to death and destruction on a scale never before seen, they serve another purpose – reminding the world of the costs of war and warning us to be judicious in how we approach conflict. Over one hundred years later, we are still saying their names and their memories still resonate.
“This war, like the next one, is a war to end war.” David Lloyd George, c1916.