Lest we forget | Daily News


 

Lest we forget

Eleven years ago this day the entire nation broke into raptures as three decades of civil war was brought to a victories end with the annihilation of the LTTE until then deemed the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world. There were spontaneous celebrations in the cities and villagers with firecrackers ringing the air amidst scenes of jubilation with Kiribath served at every street corner.

No longer were the people living with the spectre of death and destruction in their midst or on tenterhooks not knowing when the next bomb would explode. That was a time when families avoided travelling in public transport together for fear of perishing in one go while parents were shivering in fear until the arrival of their children from school. The devastation wrought in the economy was incalculable with the country being a No Go Zone for foreign investors what with the country’s Central Bank in the heart of capital city coming under a devastating terrorist attack.

Community life too underwent drastic changes nay dislocation, with the ubiquitous security check points not to mention raids carried out on residences and establishments by the security forces. The situation was exacerbated with many countries sympathetic towards the separatist cause and wanting to see a dismembered Sri Lanka for their own geopolitical reasons withdrawing financial support and arms supplies to the Government.

It is in such a context and defying the most mindboggling odds, that the victory achieved by the Lankan forces in destroying the terror machine of Prabhakaran at a time it was dinned into the minds of all and sundry that the war was unwinnable, should be considered unique and without precedent. There can be no denying even by their worst political detractors that it was the unflagging commitment and single-minded leadership jointly provided by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in tandem with his brother then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa that made the victory possible. This leadership that liberated the country from the separatist threat is acknowledged by all parties across the board irrespective of political differences not least a grateful public who are today free to walk the streets without fear of being blown to pieces and what is more, travel to any part of the country without let or hindrance. It is therefore eminently fitting that the architects of this victory are today steering the ship of state and will officiate at the National War Heroes’ Day commemoration to pay the Nation’s tribute to the fallen war heroes of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and the Civil Security Department (CSD) at the Eleventh War Heroes’ Day ceremony at the National War Heroes’ Monument at Parliament Grounds. Understandably this year’s ceremony will take on a subdued form given the health emergency that has overtaken the country. However it is vital that pride of place is given to this commemoration each year so that the heroic deeds of our war heroes will forever be fresh in the minds of the public and to recall the horrendous times they were made to endure. Not just the people of the South, even the people in the North who perhaps suffered even in a worse manner having the heartburn of seeing their children, hardly into their teens, being conscripted by the LTTE and often made to provide cannon fodder in the battles with the Security Forces would certainly have heaved a collective sigh of relief at the conclusion of the war.

The Humanitarian Operation where tens of thousands of Tamil civilians fled the terrorists to cross into the welcoming arms of Security Forces was perhaps the only operation of its kind undertaken anywhere in the world, contrary to the demonic image of the Forces painted in the Western media. It is but natural that these heroic deeds of our Armed Forces tend to fade from the public mind with the passage of time. Hence the commemoration ceremonies invoking this forgotten past is quite appropriate and would certainly kindle the memory of those valiant men whose sacrifice in blood brought peace and tranquility to the country. All Sri Lankans irrespective of race, religion or caste owe much to these true warriors but for whose efforts and sacrifices the country’s unity and territorial integrity would have been in tatters.

All measures should be taken to look into the needs of the disabled war heroes including ways and means to uplift their morale. Their welfare and happiness should foremost remain in the hearts and minds of the nation. Much appreciation is also due to the members of the Armed Forces who are performing a signal role to protect the lives of the people in the midst of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic, which, in many ways, could be seen as an extension of their determination seen during the war to protect the country from external threats.

 


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