This year’s investiture ceremony, a formal ceremony held annually by the government to confer distinctions of various ranks on individuals who have made outstanding contributions or distinguished themselves in their areas of work in the Liberian society, was dedicated to individuals and institutions that stood tall in the fight against the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
They included those who lost their lives, while on the ‘frontlines’ of the Ebola fight.
The nation’s highest distinctions were conferred on 42 individuals, humanitarians, institutions and organizations who worked fervently to rid the country of the deadly virus.
Others are institutions that remained committed to the provision of services, while their colleagues were pulling out of the country during the height of the crisis.
Also honored were religious institutions that unceasingly interceded on behalf of the nation, pleading with the Almighty for His Divine intervention and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) that helped significantly in disseminating the anti-Ebola awareness messages.
The ceremony, which officially kick-starts the nation’s independence celebrations, took place in the theater of the Monrovia City Hall, marred by poor attendance, mainly government officials.
In the sparsely audience were few high-ranking government officials headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Speaker Alex Tyler and Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Foreign Minister Augustine NgaFuan, Representative Saah Joseph and one Senator. Also present were a few members of the diplomatic and consular corps, while a majority of guests were well-wishers and family members of the honorees.
Some of the most prominent amongst those honored include Rep. Joseph, Dr. Francis Kateh; Minister Tolbert Nyenswah; Dr. Jerry Brown, and U.S. Ebola survivor, Dr. Kent Brantly. Few of those honored posthumously included Dr. Samuel Brisbane; Dr. Abraham Borbor, Dr. John Taban Dada, Dr. Thomas Scotland, and Dr. Patrick Nshamdze.
The Grand Master of the Orders of Distinction, President Sirleaf, in remarks, said the honors were awarded for “devotion, sacrifices, and altruism.”
She emphasized that several of the honorees, in the discharge of their duties and in their response to service, paid the ultimate price of life.
“Though we cannot bring them back we will forever cherish their memories,” the President lamented.
She acknowledged those, who despite the risks, put country before self, taking on the challenges to reach out and administer to those afflicted by an unknown enemy. “We owe much to our doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and healthcare workers who stood by us in those terrifying days,” she recalled.
President Sirleaf extolled Liberia’s foreign friends, who left the comfort and safety of their countries and families to join and stand by the country in the Ebola fight. “I cannot say enough for the leaders and people of our own regional institutions – ECOWAS, AU – several countries like brothers’ keepers where here despite the obvious risks.”
She stressed that although the virus is still around government is confident in its capability to respond to and defeat it.
On behalf of the honorees, Tolbert Nyenswah, said it was significant that they were being recognized for their services to country. He recalled that when Ebola struck, government was almost ill prepared to handle the outbreak, but they all stood together as a team – courageous, willing, committed and brave – and went the extra mile.
Mr. Nyenswah said even though they fought the disease from different angles, with different titles and responsibilities, the main objective was to save lives, to rid Liberia of Ebola and free the citizens of anguish. “The significant impact that the team has made can be attributed to meaningful contributions of communities and the government.”
He paid tribute to the healthcare workers who lost their lives in service to the nation and thanked all of those who supported their efforts in the fight against the EVD.
Those admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the rank of Grand Commander included, Dr. Francis Kateh; Humanitarian, Rev. Trevor Cockings; Tolbert Nyenswah; Medical Doctor at the ELWA Hospital, Dr. Jerry Brown, and Medical Director and Humanitarian, Dr. Kent Brantly.
Others were Bomi County Health Officer, Dr. Gobah Logan; Head of Case Management, Dr. Moses Massaquoi; Sinoe County Health Officer, Dr. Wilmot Frank; the ETA Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Dental Surgeon, JFK Memorial Hospital, Dr. Markandu Kanagasabai.
Some of them were Dr. Philip Zochonis Ireland of JFK; Liberia Council of Churches; Dr. Soka Moses of JFK; Active Case Finder, Dr. Mosoka Fallah; and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, Liberia Chapter.
Those admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the rank of Grand Commander are the PUL; Dr. Senga Omeonga of Catholic Hospital, who is also a survivor; and All Health Care Workers.
Those admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Commander include: Royal Air Maroc; Brussels Airlines; Dr. Izuchukwu Cosmos Aroh of Catholic hospital; Dr. Fanta Kibungu, Catholic Hospital and a survivor; Coordinator, Presidential Advisory Committee on Ebola (PACE), Dr. Emmanuel Dolo; Nurse and Ebola Survivor, Ms. Barbara Bono; and Administrator, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital and a Survivor, Joel Williams.
Samuel T.Nimley, Jr. was admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Officer.
Those admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption, with the Grade of Knight Commander include: National Muslim Council of Liberia; Firestone Natural Rubber Company; National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia; Representative, Saah Joseph; Liberia National Red Cross Society; Samaritan Purse; and the Head of the Ebola Burial Team, Mr. Mark Korvayan.
Those posthumously admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa with the Grade of Grand Commander respectively included: Medical Doctor and Humanitarian, Dr. Samuel Brisbane; Head, Internal Medicine, JFK Memorial Hospital, Dr. Abraham Borbor; Gynecologist and Surgeon, Dr. John Taban Dada; Medical Director, JFK Memorial Hospital, Dr. Thomas Scotland; Hospital Director, Catholic Hospital, Dr, Patrick Nshamdze; and Medical Director, JFK Memorial Hospital, Dr. Thomas Scotland.
All health care workers who died of Ebola were admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Commanders, respectively
Others posthumously admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption, with the Grade of Knight Officer, respectively included: Spanish Priest, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, Rev. Fr. Miguel; Nurse, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, Rev, Sis. Chantell, and Pharmacist, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, Br. George Combey.
The Investiture Ceremonies will continue at the J. Dominic Bing refurbished City Hall in Sinoe County during the official independence celebration on Monday, July 27, where the national Orator, Ambassador Charles A. Minor, will be honored.