EACH AND EVERY YEAR, Liberians observe March 8 as Decoration Day, a memorial or tribute to the many who have lost their lives over the years.
THE GOVERNMENT in a proclamation this week stressed that it is befitting that a day be set aside to celebrate the memory of those blessed dead, who have lived and died in the interest of the country, thereby keeping ever alive their deeds and invaluable contributions made to society and the State for onward march to progress.
PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, in the Proclamation, called on citizens and foreign residents to remember and cherish the love and affection, the joy and constant caring which existed between family members and friends who once lived so dearly with them before their death.
THE NATIONAL LEGISLATURE, realizing that important events in the history of our nation should be constantly kept in the minds of citizens and youths to inspire them to larger measures of service and patriotism, did, by an Act approved on October 24, 1916, declare the Second Wednesday of March in each year as “Decoration Day” to be observed as a National Holiday.
THE DAY ITSELF owes its history to American settlers who founded a colony in 1820s and proclaimed the independence of Liberia in 1847.
THIS IS A TIME of the year that many turn out to clean and decorate the graves of their deceased relatives.
WE HAVE ALL seen the scenes and heard the wailings when Decoration Day comes around as it did Wednesday. Many visited gravesites of their ancestors, clean them, trim the grass, prune plants and decorate the graves with flowers and wreaths in homage to ancestors, |while expressing appreciation and gratitude for all the sacrifices made by past generations.
IT IS A DAY THAT offers Liberians an opportunity to commemorate heroes and heroines who gave their lives for the country’s prosperity. But the other side of the coin is that the day has become a profit-making day for hoodlums, criminals and vandals who have become accustomed to removing marbles and decorations from graves to sell them to others.
MAJOR GRAVES LIKE the Palm Grove Cemetery and the Paynesville Graveyards have become the embodiment of everything that is wrong with Liberia and its respect for the dead.
TODAY, THERE is not a fitting memorial for the heroes and heroines of our past because all of their graves have been dug up, vandalized or become toilet holes for strays who have made the graveyards their homes.
LIBERIA CAN and must do better by respecting those who have left our shores. They and all those who are no longer with us deserve a memorial befitting of their service to Liberia.