Johannesburg - On Sunday Mayor Parks Tau led tributes in honour of South Africaís fallen heroes and heroines during the National Civic Remembrance Sunday service and wreath-laying ceremony, attended by about 300 guests.
Before laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in front of Beyers Naude Square in the Joburg CBD, Mayor Tau paid tribute to Don Krause, one of the Cityís oldest Holocaust survivors, along ìall South Africans who made the supreme sacrifice for freedom, democracy, unification, nation building and peaceî.
The ceremony also marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 and the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of more than 11 million people.
A total of 342 692 South African men and women of all races volunteered for service between September 1939 and September 1945. About 38 208 of them never made it back home, having paid the ultimate price.
Since 11 November 1918, when the Armistice ended all World War 1 hostilities, Remembrance Day ceremonies are held every year on the Sunday closest to the date.
In 1996 the City of Johannesburg re-dedicated the Cenotaph, situated between the Gauteng Legislature and Johannesburg Library, in memory of all those who died in defence of freedom and liberty, including those who were killed in the struggle against apartheid.
Mayor Tau said the dignity of black soldiers was restored in 1994 after decades of being ìignored and insulted with bicycle and coat gratuitiesî.
The gallant deeds of our war heroes will always be remembered. Their names have pride of place at the Freedom Park Monument in Tshwane,î Mayor Tau said.
One of the presiding clergy, Rabbi Yossy Goldman, said he lost his grandparents, uncles and cousins during the Holocaust. ìMy 90-year-old dad was the only survivor of his family from Poland. There was ongoing trauma as thousands like him tried to regain their sanity and faith in God. I remember as a 12-year-old hearing my dad screaming in his bedroom. It was not smooth sailing,î said Rabbi Goldman.
Members of the SAPS Band, JMPD, Freedom Regiment of Johannesburg, Irish Regiment and the 21 SA Army Battalion marched around the square, followed by flag-carrying boy scouts, pathfinders and the girlsí brigade.