The United States has many things to share with the rest of the world. Special and most readily among them are military and Para-military hardware and software. This week, on the occasion of Liberia’s Armed Forces Day, the Americans gave Liberia two new Coast Guard boats. According to American Ambassador Deborah Malac, they were a testimony to the longstanding friendly relations between the USA and Liberia. The boats were also the latest in the serious and sustained interest which the Americans have manifested in the re-development of the Armed Forces of Liberia. The Americans were primarily responsible for the training of the new army recruits, which started as far back as 2006, the first year of the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the AFL.
The two Coast Guard boats were the latest in America’s efforts to strengthen the Liberian Coast Guard. We recall that shortly following the 1980 coup d’état, the United States, under President Ronald Reagan, donated three Coast Guard boats to Liberia. The government of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) that staged the coup named one in honor of the Head of State, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe; the second in honor of AFL Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa; and the third in honor of Albert Porte, the legendary Liberian teacher and pamphleteer, whom Master Sergeant Doe called “the father of the revolution.”
On Monday, Commander-in-Chief Sirleaf announced that she had asked that the boats be named for two outstanding Liberian women whom she considered her mentors. The first was Madam Ruth Perry, the first Liberian woman to head the Liberian government. She is former Chairman of the erstwhile Council of State, the Interim political arrangement that led Liberia to its first post-war election in 1997.
The second boat is named for Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman, the first African woman to head a university, the University of Liberia.
We believe this is the first time in Liberian history that military boats are being named for women. We have reason to be sure it will not be the last. If President Sirleaf is fortunate enough to receive another gift of Coast Guard or gun boats, she may name one in memory of Madam Suakoko and another in memory of Madam Lango Lippaye.
The Daily Observer has been striving to engage students, journalists, oral historians and family relations from all over the country to contribute to its History & Us column, in order bring back to life the outstanding Liberians, male and female, who contributed to their chiefdoms, districts, counties and the nation. It is from this historical resource that we hope present generation of Liberians will come to know more of our people and appreciate the contributions which they made to the weaving of the national fabric.
The current Liberian Army is reputed to be the best trained in the nation’s history. This is because they learned from their American tutors the modern techniques in military science. The new Liberian soldiers are better prepared to defend the nation; and the two new boats will empower the Coast Guard to patrol the nation’s coastal waters and keep fishing pirates in check. This is crucial; otherwise the fish in our waters will be soon depleted, starving this nation of this vital protein resource.
Liberia’s Commander-in-Chief, President Sirleaf, the American military trainers, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, outgoing Chief of Staff Major General Suraj Abdurrahman and their co-workers should be commended for a job well done over the past eight years.
We urge the new AFL Chief of Staff, General Daniel Ziankhan, his Deputy Chief, Colonel Eric Dennis, working closely with and in obedience to their Commander-in-Chief and Defense Minister, to stand ready with this fine new Liberian Army to "defend the sacred heritage".