This and That – Part 16
by Captain Elmo Jeyawardana
I pick details from newspapers and TV. Though I was not an eyewitness to the happenings there are enough reasons for me to believe the battle news to be true.
A few days ago civilians trapped in the Pothumatalan area were rescued when the special commando teams fought the front line and demolished parts of the sand bund that stood between the fleeing hostages and their freedom.
Major Ajith Gamage lost his life leading the battle to break the barricade, so did so many other brave young men, the best there was, the special commandos. These are soldiers who had served in uniform for years to redeem our homeland and eradicate terrorism. Each who died would have left a loved one wrapped in tears and sighs and a sadness to carry for the rest of their lives. Mothers to tell their children how brave their father was or a father to tell his friends that his son died for the country, fallen on a nameless beach in the north east. For the love of a land and in the call of duty these young men gave their lives for yours and mine peace.
I quote from poet Binyon’s haunting prose “For the Fallen,” a fitting tribute indeed.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun we shall remember them.
Go home and tell them of us and say, we gave our tomorrow for your today.”
That is the enormity of the sacrifice made by the soldiers and into this tragic equation come the “Good Samaritans” of International fame with their celluloid politics to voice their concerns without even having the faintest idea what this sadness is all about. The Clinton Lady of “ducking bullets in Bosnia” fame leads the parade and reaches International media and has overnight become an expert on Sri Lanka. No different to how Albright shed crocodile tears during the Rwanda crisis or how Kissinger toasting over a glass of champagne on Christmas Eve ordered the B52s to bomb Hanoi.
Such could be a taste of international hypocrisy when dealing with third world conflicts. They talk and we are supposed to listen, like the Bay of Pigs from Kennedy times and how Saddam Hussein was captured in a hovel for weapons of mass destruction he did not posses. The list is long of world history and it is time we woke up to at least protest. Some even had the audacity to say that the LTTE leader should be handled by a neutral third party. I wonder if they wrest Bin Laden or Zawahiri from the Tora Bora whether the Samaritans would allow Latvia or Cyprus to prosecute them and carry out justice.
We have suffered in this land for twenty five years and paid with lives and sighs and tears. It applied to both sides and the suffering extended from Point Pedro to Devundara. Hatreds have festered and lacerated all of us and left us numb with no answers. At least we now have a hope for a military victory and then will come the immensity of resettling people and getting them integrated into society as one nation. The answers will never be easy and that will be Sri Lanka’s second tsunami, much more demanding in every manner to come to terms with what happened when the waves cast their anger.
Whoever has to shoulder the responsibility of all this will have a lot to do and I believe it will be done.
There is hope now for our people to find a common step and walk out to a new world. Maybe very slow steps at the start but there will be steps. We had walked together before and it can be done again and it will be done. Major Ajith Gamage and his kind have shown us a way, not by mere words in print or voice of boast but by making the supreme sacrifice with their lives. Yes, greater love hath no man than this, that he lays his life for his friends, but to Major Gamage and company it was much more sacred, they did not lay their lives for friends but for people totally unknown so that they could scramble across a sand bund carrying their children and their life’s possessions and walk in search of freedom.
I in my humble way salute you Major Gamage and I salute all those brave soldiers who are wounded and all those who lost their lives. Unselfishly you fought my battles and gave me a chance to hope for peace.
All I can do now in return is to extend a hand of friendship across the ethnic division. Brave soldier, my contribution may be insignificant but I will do my best whilst thanking you as I stand safe in the shadows of your supreme and selfless sacrifice.