By Mark A. Upaa
As Nigerians mark the 2019 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, a day set aside to remember and celebrate our fallen heroes (military and civilian), past and present, the great men and women who routinely put their lives on the line for duty. These are the true heroes we celebrate, who have in the past and even today continue to shed their blood, sweat and tears, to build a strong, united nation for all of us.
In Nigeria, Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD), is marked annually on January 15, a day which should be particularly poignant to every man, woman and child in our great nation. As it marks the day in 1970 when our Civil War officially ended. Thus concluding hitherto our darkest hour as a Nation. Yes, AFRD stresses our debt to those who paid the price, losing limb and life to protect our liberty and a way of life, so many of us take for granted. Yes, it is important we honor their memory in ceremonies that focus on the sacrifice, sorrow and some say ‘senslessness’ of war.
However, we must remember, reflect and respond appropriately. It is not only a day of Remembrance for members of our Armed Forces or the gallant men and women in uniform. Observation of this day provides a sobering opportunity to draw the public’s attention to our combined resposibility, to elicit a common commitment to vanquishing every new threat to the beautiful tapestry of a united Nigeria. Yes, we may be led by the brave individuals of our Armed Forces who are without doubt, the ‘arrow head’ of our sword and sheild in a new war we are fighting. An insurgency in the North-east, the murder of our compatriots by herdsmen in the Middle-belt, Militancy in the South-south and other pockets of violence that has been rocking the nation simultaneously. Blatantly attempting to sunder Nigeria into a thousand meaningless fragments.
The Armed Forces Remeberance Day also provides an opportunity to remind us all, our government and society at large of a need for joint responsibility to make our nation safe, for every Nigerian to participate, inspite of political affiliation, ethnicity or social standing. It is a day to foster timely, Strong Political commitment, a National will and consensus, to address our eminent failure in living up to the standard for nationalism and patriotism left us by our fore-fathers. A sacrifice too precious to be taken for granted. As we celebrate our dead heros, let us strive to invoke their ‘living spirit’ to awaken in us all a new generation of Nigerian heros, men and women who will arise as compatriots together to defend our unity and the territorial integrity of the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic.