Embracing an Unknown cum Patriotic Hero of Peace in Liberia: As Jenkins Vangehn Gets International Recognition…


History has uncharacteristically remained typically unkind cum unkempt to true, sincere, patriotic and selfless heroes in the struggle for social justice, rights, liberation, the pursuit of genuine peace and stability amid the havoc that brought turmoil to the small West African nation that lasted for 14 years. Jenkins Vangehn is one of such unassuming factors that sought to look inward, when he could make a determination to leave with the Americans if their plan to shut down the Embassy near the Liberian capital was scrupulously carried out but instead Jenkins Vangehn’s subconscious mind led him towards the path of unbending love for country. He thought of the scale of human lives already at risk, he could not fathom Liberians dying of hunger, diseases and thought no Liberian should die from rockets, automatic gunfire, grenades and other weapons of destruction. This is the manner of man in Jenkins Vangehn that we celebrate, fellow countrymen and women!

By Ekena Wesley, Contributing Writer

Little known Jenkins Vangehn must have come Liberia’s forested and mountainous Nimba County’s scenic cum eco-touristic Vangehn Clan where his name remains a household brand but on the pedestal of Liberia’s current peace – he will be remembered for his patriotic and selfless role behind the scenes amid diplomatic maneuvers and intense bickering for hope in 2003- essentially to convince and prevail on the Americans to reverse their decision to shut down the Embassy near Monrovia as the carnage continued unabated and perpetrated by mindless beasts.

Jenkins Vangehn remained unperturbed, steadfast, assertively resilient and firm in re-echoing to the Americans our longstanding historic ties founded on mutual cultural respect between our two nations and peoples. An elated Jenkins Vangehn told ‘A Patriot’s Diary:’” I will receive this award for my loyal, dedicated and extraordinary service to the US Government. I gallantly made the case to save my country in 2003 when the US was on the verge of pulling out of Liberia and shutting down its Embassy in Monrovia. I will also be recognized for other outstanding achievements during my nearly 20 years of service to the American government.” Some are just extraordinarily born great, some achieve greatness while others have greatness bestowed upon them.

Consumed by an overwhelming ecstasy and deeply touched amid a deserved recognition and thrilling accomplishments of Jenkins Vangehn; Darlington W. Vangehn wrote these kind words in a Facebook post June 15: “You have always been the first and will continue to be the first in the Vangehn’s Clan.  You were one of the very few Liberians to have graduated from the University of Ghana with first class honor, the first Liberian to become Political Specialist at the US Embassy in Liberia. Now, you’re the first African to win the United States Department of State’s Hero of US Diplomacy award. You were nominated for the global Foreign Service National of the Year award in 2002, won two State Department Superior Honor awards, six Meritorious Honor awards and several other US State Department awards for outstanding service. We say thank you for making your case in 2003 to save mama Liberia and by extension, thousands of lives. You have brought pride to our family and Country.  Congratulations also for your admission to Harvard University. More laurels await you. Go with God’s speed.”

When pundits, historians and journalists as contributors to the first draft of history ink papers, hit the keyboards of their computers and objectively dissect the variables of remarkable and outstanding contributions special individuals have made to the search of peace in Liberia; Jenkins Vangehn’s name will go down in history as one of patriotic hindsight, gallantry and zest who proved critically dedicated to the purpose of ensuring the greater good was resoundingly achieved.

Granted Jenkins Vangehn was never one those so-called familiar names associated with the politics of Liberia but his courage as manifested and tenacity craftily demonstrated to convince the Americans not to give up on a war weary and hopeless country; will continue to remain a sacrifice far greater than any single politician or leader must have mustered – to guarantee a commitment that would bring pressure to bear on the warlords to see reason in ending the bloodbath. Yes, Jenkins Vangehn’s singular plea changed the horrific trajectory and the Americans rose to the challenge.  Human lives were saved and a semblance of peace garnered for Africa’s oldest independent republic.

Although the epoch-making award ceremony – like all other occasions entrapped by the claws of the pandemic – will not be held in-person as a Washington DC experience this year due to the COVID-19, it will be held virtually and live-streamed around the world on June 29 at 11:00am EDT. The world will watch and come face-to-face with men and women of valor who braved the storm to peacefully change the course of history. Well done Jenkins Vangehn!

Speaking to an elated Jenkins Vangehn from his Vera Cruz, Minnesota residence in the US, where he and his family happily live, Liberia’s celebrated hero described the award as the US Government Foreign Service equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. On June 29, 2021, a citation will be read during the award ceremony and will detail further outstanding accomplishments of a Liberian whose commitment to peace and tranquility helped to dawn a new day for his native Liberia.

Did you know that it was someone like Jenkins Vangehn with a humble beginning from the highlands of Liberia’s second most populous Nimba County that drafted the ceasefire framework that ended the war in 2003 between Government forces, LURD and MODEL respectively? In human history, those who impact and change the lives of the people with a greater sense of consciousness are not the big names but often the ordinary people like Jenkins Vangehn who become forgotten when accounts of history are documented subjectively. History will not forget Jenkins Vangehn for courageously rising to the occasion when his country needed him the most.

In Jenkins Vangehn’ own words: “Simply put, I helped save my country and by extension, thousands of lives….” We all have a duty to salute such a great patriot like Jenkins Vangehn amid his burgeoning love for his country. It is by accurately documenting these selfless accounts that generations unborn will have an opportunity to appreciate, learn and get to know their true heroes in our struggle for social justice, the search for peace and the preservation of our sacred humanity that we can stand tall and make a difference.

Congratulations Jenkins Vangehn on the occasion of accomplishing such an indelible feat!