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RSA Decries Council Decision on Bridge of Remembrance

Media release from Christchurch Returned Services Association

RSA Decries Council Decision on Bridge of Remembrance

The Christchurch Returned and Services Association were on Thursday 8 September 2011 given hope and on the same day, had that hope dashed.

The President and Vice President were invited to meet with engineering specialists of the Christchurch City Council to hear a report on the situation around the Bridge of Remembrance at the western entrance to the Christchurch City Mall that the City Council is working to open to the public in time for the annual Canterbury Show Week. The RSA representatives were impressed with the report given by council staff and provided their endorsement and support for the proposals that the council engineers were to make to the council for the3 stabilisation work of the main archway which is in a fragile condition after the earthquakes. The interim options proposed were not pretty but, in the view of the RSA this work is critical to ensure the survival of this iconic and important memorial.

The Council’s decision to do nothing at this time is very disappointing to the RSA. The Bridge and its iconic arch structure are symbols of appreciation from the citizens of Christchurch and Canterbury for the supreme sacrifice made by the sons of the city and Canterbury during World War 1 as extracts from a speech by J Wyn Irwin at the official opening of the Bridge of Remembrance by His Excellency, Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa on Armistice Day, 11 November 1924:

“A Memorial to possess an enduring significance must have an idea which will appeal to the highest side of human nature. It should be an inspiration not only to the present generation, but to generations yet unborn.

The object of a Memorial is too great, to sacred a thing to be bound up with the physical necessities of human existence; yet in the Bridge of Remembrance we have a Memorial in which the spiritual and symbolic element is not hampered in the least, but rather heightened by its association with the utilitarian feature – the necessity of bridging a stream.

In this respect Christchurch is very fortunate, and in this respect the Bridge of Remembrance will always be an individual memorial.”

These sentiments hold true to this day. Since its construction and opening the Bridge of Remembrance in 1924 countless sons of our city and region have marched proudly over this bridge and through its proud arch on their way to subsequent conflicts where many of them have made the same supreme sacrifice in the name of freedom and democracy that we enjoy today.

This iconic memorial is still standing whilst others around it have now gone. It can be protected and saved if protective action is taken now. Are we yet to witness another pointless loss of a major memorial in the centre of our city, such as happened with the Lyttelton Time Ball Station, due to bureaucratic procrastination and failure to act by the City Council and the Historic Places Trust.

In the words of the late Governor General Sir Paul Reeves: “Enough is enough”.

© Scoop Media

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