Lest we forget – A day to remember all those ex-servicemen and women who died for the cause of freedom and peace
Yesterday was Armistice Day - when we commemorated the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany at 11am on November 11, 1918. The Armistice essentially ended four years of fighting in the World War I. There is a two-minute silence held to mark the occasion and remember those killed in the two World Wars and others who died or injured in conflicts since 1945. Yesterday there was a dawn service presided by the Minister for Immigration, National Security and Defence, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, at the Military Cemetery, Reservoir Rd, Suva. This was followed by the Fiji Remembrance Day Memorial at the National War Memorial Ground, Battery Road, Nasese, in Suva. It was presided by the President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote. In Labasa and other centres similar events were held. These remembrance events are held during the public appeal for the red poppy. People are asked to buy the red poppy at $1 each and display it on their chest. The money raised goes towards the exservicemen’s and women’s fund to help those is need. Members of the public wear the paper poppy on their chest as a symbol of Remembrance, to remember the fallen service men and women killed in conflict. In Fiji we have a proud history of men and women who have lost their lives on foreign soil to ensure the world enjoys freedom and peace. They and many others like them from other countries are the reason we hold these remembrance services. For without them, we will not be enjoying peace and stability today. It is very easy to forget the huge sacrifices of our fallen heroes in the busy schedules of the modern world. The most famous of our local heroes was the late Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, 3rd Battalion, Fiji Infantry Regiment who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery in the Bougainville campaign, Solomon Islands, during the Second World War. His was the first VC won in the Second World War by a non-European soldier from the British colonies. His tale of sacrifice continues to inspire our men and women to join the Fijian military service. Today that service has expanded to peacekeeping in Southern Lebanon, where our deaths have reached double figures, Sinai, Golan Heights in Syria, south Sudan and other theatres. Our commitment to fulfil our international obligations to United Nations peace efforts has been widely recognised and applauded. Despite our size, we have stood tall and won the admiration of the UN and its member countries. The political upheaval from 1987 to 2000 was the only blemish in an otherwise excellent record. It is our responsibility to ensure that the events of that tumultuous period are never to be repeated. That as we go to keep the peace in other countries, it is absolutely important that we protect the peace, stability and prosperity at home because so much is stake.
It is in all our collective interests to ensure that we protect our peace and stability. That’s what our fallen heroes died for. And we do not want their sacrifices to be in vain.
In Fiji we have a proud history of men and women who have lost their lives on foreign soil to ensure the world enjoys freedom and peace.
The opening game against the Barbarians is very important for us to get the tour off to a positive start. John McKee
Vodafone Flying Fijians coach