Two former Heads and the present Head of Amport Primary School (Karolyn Grave) joined Sir George for a ceremony to commemorate the restoration of the plaque, originally unveiled in 1921 by the then MP, in memory of those who fell in the First World.
The following extract from Tom Hiscock's "History of Amport School" describes the original ceremony.
We cannot close the curtains on our Interlude for War without witnessing a ceremony that took place on the 11th November, 1921. The children have been collecting money for a very special purpose and
"Friday, Nov. 11th. A Red Letter Day for the whole school. The School War Memorial of English Oak with gilt lettering was unveiled by Col. John Ward MP at 11 o'clock. All the Managers were present and about 40 parents and visitors. The Vicar, Rev. J.Spencer Walker presided and Col. Ward, after declaring the tablet unveiled, delivered a most inspiring address, partly to the children and partly to the adults. That to the children consisted of an exhortation to them to put duty first. 'Let duty be your watchword' was his theme and then, 'when your turn comes to uphold the honour and prestige of this land to which you belong, you will do it as nobly and as well as those whose names are preserved on this tablet.'
A vote of thanks by the Vicar to Col Ward was ably seconded by Mr E.Rumbold (Manager). The children very nicely sang Kipling's Recessional and the ceremony was brought to a conclusion by the National Anthem followed by the Blessing by the Vicar. Katie Rumbold, senior scholar, placed a laurel wreath above the tablet for the whole school and the whole ceremony was appreciated by everyone."
Little did they dream that in a mere eighteen years, the children at that ceremony would be called upon 'to uphold the honour and prestige of this land' and that they would do it very nobly indeed.
Speaking at the ceremony in the same spot, Sir George said "In 2001, 80 years later, the world is a very different place and I am not sure that an MP can simply say “Do your duty.” Then, people were used to doing what they were told. The Crown, Parliament, the Church, the Law were all respected. If a teacher asked a child to do something, it was done.
Now, if my Chief Whip tells me that something is my duty, I tell him that I will decide whether something is my duty; and I am more interested in establishing whether it is sensible. We live in a more irreverent, argumentative, egalitarian world where respect has to be earned, not commanded; where assertions are challenged and issues debated. Where simply telling someone that something is their duty is the beginning of a discussion, rather than the end of it. If Jeremy Paxman had been in the audience in 1921, he would have said “Col Ward, why should I do what you think is my duty?”
"The modern equivalent is "Do what is right"; the action that follows may well be the same; but the decision will be more meaningful because it is owned by the person taking it."