By Fatou Dahaba
Gambians, including world war veterans and members of the Gambia Armed Forces, on Sunday, 12th November, converged at McCarthy Square in Banjul to mark the historic Remembrance Day of Second World War veterans where some families had lost their loved ones.
This year’s commemoration marks the 119th anniversary of the First World War.
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed by Commonwealth member States since the end of World War II, earmarked to remember the members of the fallen service personnel in the line of duty.
Jawru Suso, a member of the Gambia Legion and World War II Veterans Family Association, urged the Gambia government to move from mere parade to practice in terms of allocating monthly beneficial packages for the victims’ families.
Mr. Suso disclosed that, sadly, the legion is not recognized in The Gambia, saying they only yearly converge for the parade and some processions characterized by official speeches without “giving them monetary benefits.”
He added: “We always come here for nothing, and the government should do something about it now. Families present here in the celebration are from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Speaking at the occasion, the Gambia’s Chief of Defense Staff, Major General Mamat O. Cham, said the Gambia has contributed significantly to World War II and fought historical battles that brought global peace and stability, something the country is always proud of.
He disclosed that since the end of the War, the world ordered rules based on international standards that have guaranteed the world’s peace, security, and stability today, noting that such a day is worth remembering today.
“We have soldiers who have participated in recent wars in Liberia and other conflicts. The day is set aside to remember heroes who gave their lives for the peace and stability we enjoy today.”
He underscored the significance of freedom, saying it becomes everybody’s responsibility to safeguard peace and stability because a society without values cannot thrive; we have to embrace the right values based on justice, truth, and democracy.
Meanwhile, Babu Njie, Chairman of the World War II Family Members Association, said that Remembrance Day is significant in the history of the Gambia, which is why they mobilized sons, daughters, and widows of war veterans to come and commemorate the day.
He also cited that on this day in history, the war veterans liberated Africa and the whole world from War, where millions of people died.
“As a son of a war veteran, I am proud of what the Gambian soldiers did in Buma,” Alagie Jallow, PRO of the Association, said.
Mr. Jallow challenged the University of The Gambia to research and document war veterans’ roles so that they can be reflected in the curriculum for generations to learn from this history.
He also renewed calls for the Gambia government and the British government to work with them to better the lives of the families of the war veterans in the country.
The vice-president of the Gambia, Muhammed B.S Jallow, was in attendance and laid the wreaths together with the Chief of Defense Staff, Major General Mamat O. Cham, the Minister of Defense, Chairman of l the Gambia Legion, Inspector General of Police, the British High Commissioner and Lord Mayor of Banjul.