Our CEO, Jillian Brennan, delivered the humanist reflection at the 2023 National Day of Commemoration in Collins Barracks in Cork on Sunday 9th July. The event honours all those Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations.
Humanist Association of Ireland – Reflection
Another year has passed, yet remembering you each year keeps you close in our minds. The past is undeniably special for human beings as we tend to define ourselves through our history. Most wars are fought in favour of freedom and against oppression and Ireland has known both oppression and freedom in its history. It’s important that we acknowledge and understand that our history is complex. As the historian, EH Carr, has written: “History is an unending dialogue between the present and the past and the chief function of the historian is to master and understand the past as a key to the understanding of present”.
Today, at this annual commemoration, we’ve come together to keep the stories and memories alive, and to remember and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who paid the true cost of freedom – our fallen comrades, who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our nation and of other nations that are attempting to hold on to their fragile peace. Freedom is never free.
We celebrate the values of these men and women, values that humanists hold dear – their honour and trust in each other, their respect for their nation and their compassion for others. We not only remember those whom we honour today, but we remember our peacekeeping troops who are deployed around the world, continuing to defend the right to freedom and peace for our fellow human beings.
We engage in this act of remembrance today, so that we never forget all that has been done to ensure our freedom, and we must consider what greater freedoms can be achieved in the years ahead.
To quote the poet Maya Angelou, “The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free”.
Damien Farnon RC Chaplain, Jillian Brennan HAI CEO, Brig. Gen. Rossa Mulcahy and Major Gen Tony McKenna
The event can be viewed on the RTE Player.