Royal College Old Boys in Australia Association (Victoria) held their Annual General Meeting on the 17th September 2017. The High Commissioner for Sri Lanka to Australia and New Zealand, His Excellency Somasundaram Skandakumar, delivered the Eddie Gray Memorial Oration before a distinguished audience of old Royalists of all vintages. The Oration is a traditional part of the Agenda of the AGM, and the High Commissioner’s address this year was extremely well received and greatly appreciated by the many attendees.
After touching briefly on his association with Eddie, initiated in 1985 through the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria, and relating two anecdotes on the humorous side of the Gentleman’s life which raised laughter round the crowded hall, the speaker focused on how the Spirit of Royal was scrupulously followed by Eddie Gray, throughout his life.
“When our first Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake fell off his horse and died in Eddie’s arms, the blame fell on the Mare. Eddie was quick to point out that it was a seizure that led to the fall, which was confirmed later. In doing so Eddie adhered to our first lesson, “To distinguish between right and wrong and to stand up for what is right.”
When he got off his Police vehicle to punch a man who was harassing a beggar on the street, he upheld our second lesson, viz to “Emulate the strong but never forget to protect the weak”.
In his blessed and blissful 64-year marriage to Yvonne, he lived up to our third lesson that “Every right implied a corresponding responsibility.”
As Head Prefect of Royal College and thereafter as the first Ceylonese head of the Mounted Police and Officer in Charge of the Fort Police, he discharged his duties with impeccable integrity, upholding our fourth lesson, viz “Greater the authority, greater then had to be the accountability.”
When he stepped aside in the boxing ring in a crucial international bout to allow his opponent to pick up his fallen gum guard and went on to lose the bout, he lived up to our next lesson, that “It was not the winning that mattered but how one played the game.”
The High Commissioner added ” Indeed he played the Game of Life as well to perfection and I have no doubt that the greatest scorer who called time on his life, welcomed him to his heavenly abode with open arms.”
“Finally, gentlemen, let us reflect on the portraits that adorn our sacred Hall of Fame. Those distinguished men are remembered even today for two things; their intellect and their integrity. Yes, there is no greater asset that a man can cherish than his integrity, and Eddie’s was impeccable.”
“As a further tribute to him, I like to mention that our lives are divided between needs and wants. Being human our wants will continue to change but basic needs will always remain the same, represented by food, water, clothing, shelter and peace.”
“Our Country invested in us in our early education and there could not be a better way to reciprocate that blessing than to make our own meaningful contribution to that process of peace, because no nation can aspire to fulfil the true potential of its independence unless that independence embraces each of its citizens equally.”
“Our loyalty to our school is reflected in a crucial line in our College song, ‘We kept thy fame inviolate’. Our National Anthem has the line ‘Eka Mawakage Daruwo’ while our National flag has four Bo leaves representing Karuna, Metta, Muditha and Upeka, essentially love and compassion.”
“Loyalty to one’s country must necessarily reflect commitment to these precious values as well, so let me conclude by quoting a very famous journalist Oliver Stone in his farewell address at the US Writers Guild Awards 2017, ‘Find time to be by yourself to listen to your inner silences. Try to find the true meaning to your life on Earth, and, never give up on your struggle for peace, decency, and telling the truth’”.