President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday paid a mournful visit to the National Cemetery located in Disco Hill, Margibi County, where over three thousand Liberian victims of Ebola are buried.
Decoration Day, which falls on March 9, is officially a holiday set aside through legislation for Liberians to pay their respects, reflect and memorialize their dead.
President Sirleaf, along with thousands of Liberians, visited the national cemetery where she met family members of those buried there.
Many of these people burst into tears upon the arrival of the President’s convoy, remembering how horrific the Ebola situation was in the country, described by President Sirleaf as an enemy Liberians did not know.
Other places she visited also included the Palm Grove Cemetery, and the grave of President William V. S. Tubman.
The National Cemetery was established in early 2015 to primarily bury those who died from the Ebola virus disease. This was after many had criticized the government’s decision to have bodies of those killed by Ebola cremated; the most effective means to destroy the virus that causes Ebola.
The burning of the bodies is contrary to the traditions of Liberia’s religious communities – Christian, Muslim and Animist.
“We want to remember many of our compatriots who lost their lives to the EVD that struck our country so hard, devastating everything we were doing and taking away the precious lives of many of our people,” she said.
She hoped that God would have mercy on their souls, as they were just victims of circumstances.
“Let God strengthen all those they left behind, their love ones, associates and friends,” she said.
She told the mourners that she wants them to take their loss as the will of God.
She consoled the many, who had just gone to sit and reflect and lay wreaths.
She told the relatives that she was sorry the situation befell the country at the time, but said no one can question the Almighty God because He has the clues to what happened.
President Sirleaf was accompanied on the tour by National Independent Human Rights Commission head, Judge Gladys Johnson and Information Minister Eugene Nagbe.
At President Tubman’s gravesite, President Sirleaf said the late president will forever be remembered for his strides to bring about genuine unity in the country.
She added that the government will always endeavor to work in that direction to have some of the dreams of past leaders accomplished, stating that the government will work to forge unity among Liberians.
Judge Johnson said, “Today is a hard day for all of us because reflecting on someone you loved in such a manner is painful.”
She urged Liberians to reflect on the collective work that was done to have Ebola eliminated from the country. “We should use our victory over Ebola as a source of inspiration for unity and national reconciliation for nation building,” she said.
The Site Manager of the National Cemetery, Kortoson Pellewuwan, said the cemetery is now running out of capacity because normal burial activities are now taking place there, adding there is need for an additional burial site.