|Thursday, 10 June 2004|
We bow our heads in honour and memory of our war heroes - President
Speech by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to mark Ranaviru Commemoration Day at the Ranaviru Memorial at Mailapitiya, Kandy on June 7.
Venerable Members of the Maha Sangha, Members of the clergy, Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Ministers, Hon. Governors, Commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, The Inspector General of Police, Members of Parliament, Honoured Guests, My dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters.
"I am particularly proud of the opportunity at being able to hold this memorial ceremony to commemorate our War Heroes for their highest and dedicated service and participate in it on this 7th of June.
All of us are gathered here are present to commemorate the greatest sacrifice, the sacrifice of life that is available to man, by nearly 23,000 Heroes of War in the Armed Forces and the Police for the defence and indivisibility of our country and the defence of its (our) people.
We bow our heads in honour and memory who of all those heroes who made a great sacrificial offer of their youth and lives for our country as a result of this cruel war that began in this country 20 years ago.
Similarly, I offer my undiminished honour and respect on behalf of the entire nation to all mothers and fathers, wives, brothers and sisters who lost their sons and daughters, husbands, brothers and sisters and other close members of their families in the sacrifice they made on behalf of the nation.
Friends, in every country and every civilized society there are a variety of monuments to honour those war heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of such country and society.
It was several years ago that our government decided to build this memorial at Mailapitiya in the Kandy District to commemorate those, mainly young men and women, who sacrificed their lives through the 20 years of this war, for the defence of the country.
We established a Ranaviru Authority to look after the interests of the families of those who sacrificed their lives and all those who were disabled by injury in this war. We accept all such work as the duty of the government.
Through the Ranaviru Authority performs a considerable service on behalf of the families of those war heroes who are deceased, the injured and disabled, and also those heroes who are still active in service.
Among these services are help in the building of homes for those who do not have their own homes; providing for vocational training where necessary to the family members of those who are disabled and also to those disabled in battle; obtaining educational scholarships for members of the families of these war heroes, and advisory and counselling services to those who are in need of such assistance.
The government also looks forward to further expand the services of the Ranaviru Authority.
The armed confrontations of war that lasted 20 years have now been temporarily halted. This has been done following agreement reached between the government and the LTTE.
I believe that everyone in this country (all our people) is pleased with this temporary peace that has been achieved.
However, it is necessary for us to make a long journey to transform this temporary ceasefire into a genuine and sustainable peace. I must remind you that this journey is even more difficult, demanding and complex than war.
In order to achieve peace, it is necessary for all of us, particularly the main parties (or participants) in this war - the Government and the LTTE - act with a great deal of commitment.
(Alternate: It is necessary for the two main parties to this war - the government and the LTTE - to act with a great deal of commitment in order to achieve this sustainable peace).
However, as the Venerable Member of the Maha Sangha who spoke earlier reminded us, our government is in no way prepared to enter into the commitment at the cost of sacrificing our national security, territorial integrity, the sovereignty of the State and the safety and security of the people.
I wish to remind you on this occasion that will make every effort to go on that journey while ensuring the special needs and the necessary security that will not make it possible to separate one part of the country from the larger national entity of what remains a single country.
In this situation it is not possible for the government alone to successfully carry out this task. In this we need the cooperation of the entire nation and especially the cooperation of all leaders in our society. It is not material as to who is in government.
Similarly, it is not important as to what political party forms the government. I wish to emphasize on this very important and significant occasion, that all such rivalry should beset aside and all political parties, especially the leaders of political parties should set aside their narrow and politically selfish expectations and make a determined commitment on behalf of the nation and country to cooperate achieving this sustainable and strong peace that we all look forward to with great expectation.
It is our belief that all those in leadership positions, particularly the religious leaders, the leaders in the world of business, and all those other leaders of society who give leadership to the people in this task, should come together to give us the necessary advise, help clarify the issues involved and contribute towards or become partners in traversing this all important journey towards a sustainable peace.
My dear friends, we are all aware that during times of war the heroes or the security forces and the police have acted with great commitment, strength and courage.
I wish to remind you that strength and courage of the same order is required when we seek to depart from war and traverse the path towards peace. (As I said earlier)
The path to peace requires much more wisdom, patience and commitment towards the country that in carrying out war. I wish to make it clear on this occasion, that for the achievement of peace too we need the total commitment, strength and courage of all the service commanders, the commanding officers at every level, and the nearly 200,000 persons in all ranks of the security services and the police.
I have the conviction that we will receive this participation and leadership that we seek. I wish to remind this honoured audience and the entire country that this government shall not in any way betray the security of this land that has been soaked in the blood of our war heroes though many centuries, and through over two millennia, as much in the past 20 years".
Produced by Lake House