Families of Fallen Heroes Equally or More Important than Celebrations and IDPs
Posted on June 8th, 2009

Dilrook Kannangara

The hot topics today are IDPs and celebrations. However, IDPs are alive today because of the heroics of our soldiers. The same goes for celebrations. When colossal sums of money spent on these two, it is imperative to give equal or even more significance to the welfare of families of fallen and disabled heroes. If not for their unparalleled sacrifices, Sri Lanka would be no better than Swat valley or Gaza today.

 The war that lasted for three decades took away from us 27,000 young lives in the armed forces. They died during their prime making the war an extremely costly affair. Of course it killed more on the other camp but they rightfully deserve it and welfare of the families of dead LTTE cadres need not be a priority at least at this stage. In addition close to 40,000 soldiers were made disabled. Their families are also left in permanent misery and poverty. They need a helping hand and more than anyone they deserve it.

 After the war, heroic tales of our brave soldiers start to emerge. Some of them have gone to extra lengths in safeguarding the nation, its way of life, the Sri Lankan value system and democracy. They are not there among us to “ƒ”¹…”celebrate’ the victory but they are the victory. Hopefully commonsense will prevail and our deserving silent heroes will not be forgotten. The celebrations on the June 3rd were far from impressive. It is common to facilitate the armed forces in a military parade, but, strangely it came to marching them on a hot June midday under scorching sunlight in Galle-Face which was supposed to be their facilitation! Obviously there must be a better way to celebrate the victory.

 Tales of soldiers are harrowing, in and out of the battlefield. These young men and women have not only taken the mammoth task of saving Sri Lanka from the uncivilized terrorists, but also have shouldered the responsibilities towards their siblings, parents and grandparents. It’s the task of the nation to look after them as if their breadwinner were still alive. Forget this national responsibility and this nation will end up facing a worse war and there will not be anyone coming forward to defend it. The government must take both short term and long term measures to address this issue which can potentially grow into a major catastrophe in the south as we have seen twice in 1971 and 1989.

 Providing additional educational opportunities to family members of fallen heroes is the best way to go. That needs no additional capital layout and it can yield returns many times more. Further, disabled soldiers should also be afforded opportunities to further their studies. Obviously not all, but a sizable number of them are good at studies but had to give up to support their families and the country. They will make the very best out of the opportunity if given. As an added advantage, they will take care of their own sustenance relieving the government billions of dollars over the course of decades.

 Tens of thousands of children are condemned to live without a father in dire circumstances. Brothers and sisters of fallen heroes are eternally suffering both loss and poverty owing to the death of their beloved brother in the armed services. Unlike most LTTE families, they haven’t chosen the migration option. The best escape route for them is also education that can provide them a livelihood. The government should seriously consider utilizing existing educational facilities funded by the government to educate them by granting them commensurate study opportunities in line with the sacrifices their family members made for the safety of the Motherland. Government universities must have an opening for them on terms commensurate with the sacrifices their family members made for the safety of the Motherland. This admission scheme can be used in priority to the district based quota considering the greatness of the sacrifices made. On the other hand brain drain among them would be very much lower than some others. Owing to brain drain, certain districts are notorious for not producing enough professionals for the nation despite the billions wasted by the government on them. It will be a double benefit for the nation, if the twin dreams of fallen heroes are met by the government using its existing resources and facilities even at the expense of less performing sections. These twin dreams are the betterment of the Motherland and the wellbeing of family members.

 The President may remember what a mother of a fallen soldier told him at the funeral of her son. She was referring to the twin dreams of her son. One was to rid the nation from terrorists and the second was to build a better future for his brothers, sisters and parents. We can only hope that the government will mobilize its very limited resources and facilities in priority to make true the twin dreams of our fallen heroes as well. Those dreams will continue to live unlike a ceremony that fizzles out in a day leaving behind only a trail of photographs. Remember the soldiers who granted all the Sri Lankans including the displaced, the freedom to live and the freedom not to be displaced again. In relation to the war, they must be our priority number one.

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