October of next year, 2016 will mark exactly a century since Liberians have been called upon by the National Legislature to observe the second Wednesday in March as Decoration Day. It is a day set aside to honor the nation’s Blessed Dead.
On this day each year families find their way to the graves of their fallen loved ones with cleaning brushes, whitewash, flowers and other ornaments to show their love, respect, appreciation and remembrance. It has not always been a pleasant experience. As the photos in today’s edition, taken by our Acting Editor, Omari Jackson, indicate, people will find, as they have often found in the past, the graves of their loved ones desecrated (vandalized) by criminally minded and unpatriotic miscreants (wrongdoers, villains)—people who have no regard for the past—even their own past. We say this because there is not a single one of us in this Republic that does not have someone lying in some graveyard.
Unfortunately, given Mr. Jackson’s photos, we cannot say that all the graves will be intact tomorrow. But we hope that most of them will be and that loved ones and friends will proceed to gravesites throughout the country to perform our sacred duty to our Dear Departed. In so doing, we will be acknowledging their love and support extended to us during their lifetime and the work they did, however small, to ensure the survival and progress of this Republic.
Tomorrow is NOT a time for merrymaking—drinking, dancing and frolicking (running about happily). On the contrary, it is a time of sober reflection on the lives of our Dear Departed and what they have meant for our lives—how they have impacted us, our communities and country. Everything we do tomorrow should represent a solemn (sober, serious) mark of appreciation and respect for the contributions, however small, that they made toward what and who we are and toward the growth, protection and sustenance of our country.
But why do we say that tomorrow is a special Decoration Day? We should all know the reason: we should remember in particular our compatriots and others who succumbed to the Ebola virus—they include our loved ones and all the healthcare workers—the doctors, nurses and paramedics, the drivers, those on burial teams, everyone who died in the fight against the deadly pandemic.
There were many who were laid away in makeshift burial places, and some who, in the wild and sorrowful confusion, were laid in unremembered areas. Some who did the burying are themselves no longer around. Tomorrow is the day we should remember ALL of them and find a way properly to memorialize them.
These must include those Ebola victims who were cremated and whose ashes and remains have been placed in barrels. The government must find a proper way to memorialize them. For starts, their names should be engraved on a metal or marble plaque and placed under a decently built concrete doom.
All of the Ebola deaths were tragic; but there were some which were even more tragic—like 16 year-old Shakie Kamara. He, too, should be especially remembered. Is there anything that anyone can do to mitigate (lessen) this sad, painful remembrance?
All of this, especially those who were so rudely, so unbelievably, so suddenly snatched away from us by this satanic stranger, Ebola—over 4000 of them—yes, all of this is what makes tomorrow, without a doubt, a special Decoration Day.
We make one last appeal to our new Public Works Minister, Gyude Moore: Please avail to all City Corporations throughout the country Zoning, Landscape and Planning experts who can assist all Liberian cities in properly designing, organizing and building our graveyards and setting strict and enforceable rules as to grave sizes. This will allow easier access to grave sites and make our cemeteries more organized and more beautiful final resting places for our departed loved ones.