Mr Speaker, thank you for granting me the opportunity to make this statement on the occasion of the Veterans (Remembrance) day. Remembrance Day falls on 11 November each year to remember the gallant ex-servicemen who lost their lives in World Wars I and II for the peace we enjoy today. Ghana, on Sunday joins the rest of the World to commemorate the end of hostilities of World War II.
Mr Speaker, in 1918, the Armistice which ended World War 1 became effective at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (11/11) of 1918 when the gun fell silent on the Western front in France and Belgium then the four years of hostilities ended.
The day was called the Armistice Day. Ghana then Gold Coast, being part of the British colony, also sent her gallant sons overseas to fight in this war. Some of our soldiers lost their lives.
These West African Servicemen at the time were under the Royal West African Frontier Force and, alongside British troops, fought in India, Burma, Myohaung (Theatre), Eastern Europe, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Africa and other areas under very austere conditions.
Mr Speaker, it can be recalled that these ex-servicemen who assisted in the war effort, before the war, were promised proper resettlement. When they returned home from the war, those entitlements were not met. They could not find jobs and, their pensions were also denied them.
Pressing for their demands, a group of these ex-servicemen marched to the Osu Castle to present their petition to demand
the pension and other compensations promised them for their roles in the war.
Unfortunately, at the cross road, the colonial duty guard sharply requested a retreat by the unarmed ex-servicemen failing which three of them, Sgt Adjetey, CpI Attipoe and Pte Odartey got shot. Mayhem ensued from the incident and engulfed Accra which degenerated into what has become known as the 1948 Riots.
Mr Speaker, today, we praise the millions of ex-servicemen who bravely fought and died to make history in this country in particular, and the world at large.
The effort of our soldiers contributed to rescue the world from repression and granted us freedom. It is because of the courage, tenacity, sacrifice and selfless dedication displayed by these ex- servicemen that we stand here on this occasion to remember them.
It is important to acknowledge this memorable occasion through which they bequeathed to us peace and offered us important place in world history.
Many countries have recognised that the Remembrance Day does not only symbolise the sacrifices of those who fell in the two World Wars, but also those who have died in subsequent conflicts around the world, including those who were deployed on peacekeeping duties.
Ghanaian peacekeepers have died in places such as Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Lebanon, La Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and so on in the cause of duty around the world and we need to remember them as well during such commemorative days.
The Day also underscores the paramount need not only to stop wars, but also to pursue the idea of peace at all cost and at all times as the only condition for the survival of the human race.
Mr Speaker, during the period towards Remembrance Day, artificial poppies are sold as a means of raising funds to support the veterans, especially the disabled and the hospitalised.
Red poppy flower symbolises the blood shed during horrific conflict, but also the hope of new life, and the poppy became the symbol of Remembrance Day.
Mr Speaker, as we commemorate Remembrance Day on Sunday, it is also important we pay respect and honour to those who in diverse ways lost their lives serving the country.
It is imperative that we observe this day with all the importance it deserves for, as the adage goes, “a nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for”.
Mr Speaker, once again, thank you for the opportunity.