— For not attending retired Executive Mansion photographer’s funeral
What seems to be shocking to a lot of sympathizers and families took place on December 12, 2020 whe the Government of Liberia could not show representation at the funeral and interment of James M. Garresen, a renowned photographer who served the government through the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs for decades.
In reaction to the absence of government officials especially those from the Ministry of State at the funeral, Rev. Father McDonald Freeman, II of the St. Augustine Episcopal Church has said that such a person like Garresen cannot be given respect by the government because he lived a simple live without engaging into acts detrimental to the people of the country.
The late Garresen died on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, at the ELWA hospital in Paynesville outside Monrovia.
Garresen, who was known as the “Man behind the camera,” served various administrations including that of the late Samuel K. Doe, former President Charles Taylor, interim administrations, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President George Manneh Weah.
Apparently considering the other side more significant, the government was well represented at the funeral the late Assistant Minister of Transport, Nuwoe Scott, who was also buried on the same day (Saturday).
Before his retirement in February of this year, Mr. Garresen served the Ministry of State for more than five decades, first in the Special Security Service and then in the Office of the Presidential Press Secretary.
Speaking at the celebration of the home-going of the deceased, Rev, Fr. Freeman expressed his distress over the deceased not being accorded a state funeral.
He further said that the government has shown complete “Disregard towards a man who served his country with sincerity, love and passion for his job.”
The tough-talking Reverend of the St. Augustine Episcopal Church in his sermon on Saturday, December 12, 2020, wondered while the Government should pay late service to Garresen, who dedicated his entire life to serving the country.
According to him, the deceased was part of the second group that took over after Robin Logan, Ansah as presidential photographers at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.
He indicated that, “Garresen worked with Presidents William R. Tolbert, Jr., Samuel K. Doe, Charles Taylor and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as well as all the interim leaders of this country but see how he is treated today.”
“If I were to ask whether the Minister is here at the funeral service, the answered will be no. If I were to ask for the Deputy Minister, the answer will also be no. Why should we treat our hero this way? Or because he was not part of the missing containers from the Freeport of Monrovia, or because he was not part of any political parties, why?” he asked.
Rev. Fr. Freeman went on to say that Liberians have now become a group of people who only honour, adore, and lavish praises and gratitude on a group of criminals, gangster and looters, while leaving people who really sacrifice their entire lives to serve.
He further noted that “If this were a funeral of somebody, who knew where to find the missing containers, this place would have been overwhelmingly parked, but since this is somebody who dedicated his life to serving his country, this why he has been treated like this.”
He said: “But we thank God for the life that James lived and history will remember him for the services he rendered to this country.”
He added: “If he were doing this for money, then, I would say he has a lot of photo studios in all of the counties. But he remained where he found himself. Some of you don’t know how it takes to work in government because when you work in government, there is a bitter and sweet time, especially where James was working.”
“Is this how you say goodbye to one of your heroes? Today it’s James, tomorrow it could be you because we all will pass this way,” he added.
Rev. Fr. Freeman said working for the government now has become a curse because it is no longer encouraging and motivating anymore.
At the same time, families, sympathizers, relatives and mourners in their tributes said the late Garresen will be missed dearly.
They said in separate statements that the deceased was the backbone for them and was always willing to help people who needed help.
The late Garresen leaves to mourn his two daughters, Ms. Mardia J. Garresen; Ms. Joan M. Garresen, his Mentu A.K. Snoh and sister, Mrs. Snoyonoh Snoh-Miller and a host of other relatives, friends and nieces.
Meanwhile, the funeral service was attended by scores of family, neighbours, friends including Charles Snetter, Mr. Sando Moore, and Charles Allen, respectively.