The President of Malta

Diskors mill-Eċċellenza Tiegħu George Vella, President ta’ Malta, waqt il-kommemorazzjoni tat-traġedja tal-bastiment HMS Glorious. (Diskors bl-Ingliż)

Mr Saviour Azzopardi, Chairman of the GRALAC Association,

Distinguished guests,

I am pleased to join you in this solemn commemoration of the tragic loss of hundreds of lives of Maltese and British men, who drowned off the coast of Norway, during World War II.

The naval tragedy of the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, has rightfully gained a place in our collective memory, and is nowadays closely linked to the crucial role that Malta and its people played during the war.

These commemorations are highly significant occasions as through them, we pay homage to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we convey to them our respect in the presence of their relatives and loved ones.

Those who lost their lives on HMS Glorious in the early days of World War II were sadly to be joined by so many others who laid down their lives during the months and years that followed, so that today, we can enjoy liberty, democracy and freedom from authoritarianism, fascism and nazism.

Theirs was the ultimate sacrifice.

Their families and friends still bear the scars of having had to live with their memories, and to move on with their lives.

The least that society could do to thank these unsung heroes is to remember them as we are doing today.

Our only hope is that they have all found solace in God’s mercy and are enjoying eternal rest in peace.

As I often state in similar circumstances, such events should have a broader meaning and lead us all to reflect on the devastating effects of present-day wars and conflicts, the futility of war with its material destruction and the irreplaceable loss of human lives.

If we have to be honest with ourselves, over the past eighty years following World War II, we seem to have learned very little from these bitter experiences.

Apart from the innumerable conflicts and wars that take place almost regularly somewhere around the globe, Europe itself is at the moment witnessing a war at its very centre.

Following decades dedicated to the building and preservation of peace, our Continent has been subjected to the effects of aggression, invasion, displacements and destruction. 

On occasions such as today’s, we should all feel bound to spare a thought for the victims of ongoing conflicts, besides honouring the memory of those who have gone down in history as heroes.

‘Heroes’ are not relics of the past – they abound around us today too.

They are the men who stayed behind to defend the right of existence of their homeland and the future of Ukraine.

They are the mothers and the daughters who fled in a matter of hours with no belongings, to save the lives of their children and their elderly.

They are volunteers who assisted refugees at the border and all those, like several Maltese families, who opened their homes to welcome them.

They are those women who are deprived of their most basic rights simply because they are women – yet they pursue their struggle.

They are those children who have no access to health, education or mobility because they were born during a conflict, in a warzone, and know no other reality – yet they continue to believe in peace.

Our modern-day day heroes are those who speak up against, and stands up to, injustice and abuse.

Let us therefore find inspiration in this commemoration to pause and think of ways in which we can contribute to the betterment of our collective well-being, and reinforce the narrative of dialogue, and not that of war.

In honouring those departed so valiantly, today, we all are serving as agents of peace.

It is my hope that we keep up this role, not only by remembering the historical events that have shaped our past, but also by our daily activities within our own communities.

I thank you once again for inviting me.

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