The heroism and sacrifice of Ulstermen at the Somme in 1916 was never far from the thoughts of many at the Twelfth in Dromore and like Orangemen all over the Province.
Those gathered in the field were given a solemn reminder of the “sacrifice and courage of our forefathers 100 years ago at the Somme”.
Co Down Grand Master, Samuel Walker, said 2016 was a year “marked with sadness as we take a moment to remember all those young men, many of whom were members of our Institution, who without waver answered the call to serve King and Country 100 years ago”
He continued: “A century ago when young men returned from the front line they were faced with challenges at home with no work and the onset of the great depression, and many suffered extreme life hardships when coping with the aftermath of the horrors of war.
“We should remember all those of our Armed Forces who have fought in other theatres of war from our Province. We think of the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan and soldiers who have returned with horrific injuries and mental health problems. We should ensure that they have all the support to help them in the days ahead, and I congratulate the efforts of many lodges within this county who have organised events in support of various military charities.”
In a thought-provoking address, the County Grand Master paid tribute to the dignity and long service of the Queen in her 90th year and called on the gathering to “profess the reformed faith” and highlighted the community impact of the Loyal Institution.
He said: “Our resolutions reflect the continuing focus and ethos of this Institution on three main things which make up for most of us the qualifications of an Orangeman. Firstly faith; secondly loyalty; and thirdly our country.
“We rejoice that Her Majesty has reached that milestone of her 90th year and has become the longest serving British monarch.
“As an Institution it was with great delight we welcomed the Royal visit of His Highness the Prince of Wales to our Museum of Heritage at Loughall.
“This Royal recognition of the work and history of the Institution, I believe, was refreshing and should encourage us to go forth and encourage others to join this Institution.”
He added: “As an Institution we play an active role in each of our local areas and our contribution to raising funds and supporting charitable causes across the whole community is second to none.
“We provide and maintain a network of halls which are in constant use, providing much-needed facilities in many isolated and rural areas.
“At a time of government cutbacks and austerity, including education, it has been our dedicated workers who have played a role in educating our young people in music and dance.
“One has only to look at the number of young people in the various bands on parade today.”
Dromore was hosting its first Twelfth demonstration in 16 years.