A wreath-laying ceremony to remember the fallen heroes of the First and Second World Wars was performed in Accra on Friday as the world marked the 71st anniversary of the end to hostilities of those warfares.
The two wars were experienced between the periods of 1911-1918 and 1939-1945 respectively.
The day was celebrated by Commonwealth countries around the globe as a way of acknowledging and recognising the servicemen who sacrificed their lives for world peace.
The ceremony at the Christianborg War Cemetery in Accra was attended by government officials, diplomats, traditional authorities, serving and retired military men, families of the deceased war heroes and the general public.
Of the hundreds of thousands of military men who lost their lives in those wars, the cemetery is ‘home’ to 419, especially those who died in the Second World War.
They include 357 West Africans, 50 British, eight Canadians, two Italians, an Australian and a Polish.
In all, six wreaths were laid on behalf of the government and people of Ghana, the Commonwealth, the Diplomatic Mission, the Armed Forces, the Veterans Association, Ghana (VAG) and traditional authorities.
Mr. Prosper Bani, Minister of the Interior, Mr. John Benjamin, British High Commissioner in Accra, and Mrs. Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, Zimbabwean High Commissioner, laid wreaths on behalf of the government of Ghana, the Commonwealth and the Diplomatic Mission in Ghana respectively.
Others to lay wreaths included the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Sampson Oje, Commodore Steve Obimpeh, Board Chair of the VAG and Nii Kwabena Bonney V, the Osu Alata Mantse for the military, the VAG, and traditional authorities respectively.
The occasion was also used to sell poppies, a red flowering plant deemed as representing the blood of those who fell in the battle, as a means of raising funds to support the veterans, especially the disabled and the hospitalised.
Prayers were also said for the peaceful rest of the souls of the war casualties and all persons who died in conflict situations while trying to maintain peace.
A member of the VAG, who sought anonymity, in an interview said it was worth remembering their deceased colleagues but “it is equally important we get what is due us whiles alive.”
According to him, retired servicemen had been neglected for far too long, and that it was time the myriad of challenges they faced were addressed, because “some of us are dying in abject poverty after many years of dedicated service at a time when monetary gains were not a motivating factor to join the military.”
From Ho Alberto Mario Noretti, reports that a wreath laying ceremony was held at the Ho Jubilee Park also to mark Remembrance Day.
It was preceded by a parade formed by contingents from the Veterans Association of Ghana, Army, Police, Ghana National Fire and Rescue Service, Prisons, Ghana Immigration Service and the Ghana Revenue Authority.
At 11:11 am, the siren was sounded, together with the Last Post, amid the firing of three volleys of 25-pounder artillery by personnel of the 66 Artillery Regiment, Ho.
These took place simultaneously with the hoisting of the flags of the various security services.
By Julius Yao Petetsi