Rt W Prov. Grand Master and Brethren.
To-day is another important milestone in the short history of this Gallipoli Lodge and it is a privilege for me to address you on the nature and importance of banners and of what the possession of a banner means to a lodge.
The dictionary describes a banner as ‘a square flag charged with a coat of arms; a military standard; a flag bearing some device; often carried on two poles, or hanging from a cross-piece used in processions, etc.’ However, it is not so much the physical description of a banner that concerns us, but more importantly, its symbolic significance.
Banners are important to those who follow them. They are a rallying point, a statement, a visual display, speaking more eloquently that words, of who and what we are, and of the principles and values for which we stand.
For this reason, banners, flags and ensigns, have been important to people throughout the ages. The book of Numbers, records that long ago, the children of Israel camped beneath their respective family banners whilst they journeyed for forty years in the wilderness. These banners were rallying points, symbols which spoke to these people of belonging and identity. Later, the Legions of Rome marched behind their standards, as they conquered the known world to create their empire.
Banners were a familiar part of my Lancashire childhood! The churches and chapels of our town all possessed beautiful painted banners some fifteen to twenty feet high, behind which we proudly marched on our annual Whit Walks. The Trades Unions similarly marched through the streets, behind their respective banners, which indicated which trade or industry they represented. In Britain today, the Union Flag gives a feeling of belonging and loyalty at a national level.
This morning we come to dedicate a new banner for the Gallipoli Lodge. Our Provincial Grand Chaplain spoke eloquently on the history of the Gallipoli campaign when this lodge was consecrated last November. This November we mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the Great War and in just eight days time, the country will fall silent at eleven o’clock as we remember the sacrifice and suffering of those who have lost their lives in war.
This banner which we dedicate today has at its centre, a cenotaph and the motto “Peace at home, peace in the world”. The cenotaph in Whitehall, unveiled by the King on Sunday 10th November 1920 each year becomes the focus of our national act of remembrance.
This banner with it’s own cenotaph, reminds us of the suffering and sacrifices of war. In our remembering we are inspired to struggle and labour for a transformed world and the motto on our banner speaks of this greater hope and purpose: “Peace at home, peace in the world”.
Surely brethren, this great hope is one of the underlying principles of our masonry. We are an order which brings together men of all ranks and stations in life. We embrace all races, creeds, nationalities and faiths, building unity and peace through bonds of friendship and brotherhood.
These great principles of our order if worked out in our wider society would bring about a changed and renewed world. Each one of us can make a profound difference in the lives of those around us, and in the world more generally. In Mark Masonry our focus is upon that stone rejected by the overseers which has now become the chief stone of the building. We emphasise that whoever we are or whatever we are, we all possess great gifts and merits which can bring to bear in our own sphere of influence – and can ultimately be used in the building of a better society and a renewed world.
Now, brethren of Gallipoli Lodge, your banner proclaims some of those high ideals and values upon which our order is founded, for there could be no better motto than “Peace at home, peace in the world.” I do trust that you will have pride in this banner, which is the symbolic emblem of your lodge, and I hope that the high ideals of which it speaks will continue to grow in your hearts, and that you would eagerly rally around this standard. May this banner inculcate a true feeling of belonging to the lodge of which each of you are a member, and always remind you of some of the deeper principles and values of our order which can bring peace at home and peace in the world.
Christopher Bamforth Damp