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Sunday, 12 May 2013

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Government Gazette

Ranaviru Month:

They need our love, respect and honour



A little girl pins the Ranaviru Flag onto President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the launch of War Heroes Commemoration Month at Temple Trees on May 8

This is the Ranaviru Month for Sri Lanka. The month to remember the painful loss of over 21,000 young men and women who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Task Force and Police in the three decade long war against terrorism. Over 12,000 youth of our Tri-Forces and Police have become disabled in this fight. One month that started from May 8 will be a unique month for Sri Lankans giving special attention to those who sacrificed their life and limbs for the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of our motherland.

This is the month that reminds our nation the love, respect and honour these veterans of war and their families need and avoid their sacrifice going unnoticed. We need to remind the world about the supreme sacrifices of the war hero because the world is trying to divert their stories to other directions, said Chairman of the Ranaviru Seva Authority Padma Wattawa speaking to the 'Sunday observer'. "We as Sri Lankans cannot forget that its because of the sacrifice of our war heroes that made a peaceful safe environment for us to live. We need to remind this to our future generation as well. We all learned our history of our kings' time and how our leaders fought to free our country from invaders. Our killed and disabled soldiers of the tri-forces are today's heroes," said Wattawa.

Lest we forget, "It is our war heroes who paved us a path to walk towards development and prosperity. Whatever the development we enjoy today it was made possible by them," she said. "Thus we have to take their wives, children, parents along the development path without leaving them behind. They should be at a parallel level with the rest of the country when the nation is going towards a better developed state. That is why we are spending so much of money for their benefit," she said.


A differently-abled war hero at the ceremony

The Government allocates Rs.41,622 million to be spent annually for health, education and other essential needs of our war heroes, their parents, spouses and children. "We do give a special attention to health and education. It is our duty and responsibility to help them our war heroes and their families," Wattawa said.

Chairman of the Authority said that surprisingly some people question why do they pay an extra money when these war heroes disabled and families of those who were killed in action are already receiving a salary. "This was a question raised even in the parliament. But their loss can never be estimated monetarily and we will never be able to repay their sacrifices," she said. Some of the war heroes didn't own even a few perches of land of their own when their died in action protecting the motherland. Some children didn't have the luck to see their father as he died. Now the mother has to build a world for the children alone.

The national Ranaviru Commemoration Month was launched at a ceremony held at the Temple Trees under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The daughter of war hero KMUSK Udugama who made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of the nation on March 10, 2008, pinned onto the President the first Ranaviru flag. At the ceremony the provincial governors gave the President funds collected through the sale of Ranaviru flags last year. The monies were then given to the Ranaviru Seva Authority to be utilised for welfare measures intended for the Ranaviru families.

A series of events have been planned by the Defence Ministry and Ranaviru Seva Authority to mark the War Heroes Commemoration month, including the Victory Parade at Galle Face Green and War Heroes commemoration at the Ranaviru Monument near the Parliamentary complex at Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte on May 18.


Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa hands over scholarships to children of War Heroes

"Children of war heroes will light a lamp on May 18 at 6.20 in the evening and I request all Sri Lankans to join them and light a lamp at this time in your home. This remembrance will bring back the pride and self esteem of our war heroes."This government has taken a number of steps like no other government in the world has done for the benefit of our war heroes and their families. Under the government we daily complete a significant amount of jobs to achieve this target. Yet we need to remind the rest of the Sri Lankan community of these supreme sacrifices," Wattawa said.

Old parents

Under the directions of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa the Ranaviru Seva Authority has not forgotten the dedication and sacrifices parents of the soldiers have made.

"The Defence Secretary is not only with the war heroes but with their families and parents as well with same care and concern," she said. "The Government extending care for the old and feeble mothers and fathers of the soldiers even after four years from ending the war against terrorism is significant. These words are not limited for promises. "Under the guidance of Defence Secretary the Ministry of Defence and the Ranaviru Seva Authority see to the ground realities at every district and are committed to bring solutions to the problems these families face," she said.

Under the directions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa there is a special allocation in the government budget to serve the parents of war heroes.

A mother or a father, each receives Rs. 750 every month to a bank account and only that particular mother or father is the sole owner of the account. This is given to each and every mother and father of soldiers killed in action since the beginning of our war against terrorism. Thus the Government is sending money to 800,000 elderly people. This money that accumulates in the account will be some sort of a strength at any given time for them.

Since 2007, the Government decided to pay 25 percent from the war heroes salary to his parents. This was informed through a Government circular. Yet this did not cover parents of war heroes who were killed in action before 2007. Thus those parents are given a monetary allowance through the Ranaviru Seva Authority - if a single parent, Rs. 500 is given, and if both parents are living Rs. 1,000 is given. Yet the government did not stop the Rs. 750 allocation paid for 800,000 mothers and fathers of war heroes.

"We pay a special concern to health and medical issues the parents face as they grow old. In cases where they need money we given them as funds and loans. We give lenses for eye operations and help in many such medical needs," Wattawa said.

Since the present education system of Sri Lanka creates quite an intense situation to get children admitted to schools, Defence Secretary proposed to bring in the Defence College which is now in operation in Malay Street, Colombo. And since most of the soldiers killed in action are from the North Western Province another Defence College is established in Kurunegala the capital of the Province.

When the war was going on the father did not have the free time to attend to children's school attendance matters. In order to bring peace of mind to these fathers in the front the Defence Colleges were established.

Today these schools have gone beyond the success levels of many national schools in the country. There are up-to-date facilities to educate the children at these schools. In other cases where security forces personnel find difficulties in getting their children admitted to schools the Ministry of Defence interferes and solve the problems. Our special attention is also given to wives of war heroes in order to make them independent women actively involved in the national development of the country. We need to make them strong economically and socially specially for the sake of the children she has to raise on her own. Mother will be the only parent for many of the children of war heroes.

Uththama Pooja Pranama

For the children to be happy the mother should feel happy and secure. In today's society the modern heroines are these wives and mothers of war heroes who made the soldier's mind clear to go and fight a ravaging war against terrorism.The other unique thing this government did to the mothers, fathers, wives and children of the war heroes who were killed in action is giving them a medal. 'Uththama Pooja Pranama' medal is given to them. This medal is gazetted.

The value of this medal is that even the child does not need any certification from anyone to prioritise them at instances like a job interview. This gazetted recognition gives the certification of them belonging to a family that made the supreme sacrifice to the nation. This can never be transferred to any other person. "All the contributions will be spent to help the innocent families of war heroes to stand on their own feet. We don't want them to be dependent. They need to be active partners of the national economic development," she said. As she further added we know that how much we do we cannot replace the loss they feel in their lives and we can never complete the incompleteness they feel. Yet what we can do is try to make they strong and secure safeguarding them from becoming a vulnerable group in the society.

As it is said in the poem 'We who remain' written by Anthony Devanny 'We are indeed the lucky and unlucky ones, As we are the ones who have lived to tell the tales of those we once knew" Devanny says; "We are the ones who carry those scars of things seen, done and lost; we are the ones who must never let those who are not here be forgotten by the new." Let us make sure the future will remember our war heroes as true friends and their memories will never fade away.

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