Story by Christopher Tan
A SOLDIER is always a soldier until his dying day.
Armed forces personnel sacrifice and risk their lives because of their love for the people and their country.
Penang Veterans Association president Mej (R) R. Sivarajan said this to guests gathered at the Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov 19.
“A euphoric sense of freedom and gratitude to the fallen heroes who defended our freedom; and the melancholy feeling for these warriors and their families who had to endure life without their loved ones.
“I understand that the first Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph (Penang War Memorial) at the Esplanade, Penang, was held in 1919.
“Today, we make history of being attendees of the 99th year since the first Remembrance Day,” he said in his speech.
Sivarajan said the servicemen made their decision to be soldiers because it is a noble profession.
“No serviceman has made a financial fortune serving the armed forces.
“They take the oath to defend the King and country to ensure that life will be good for the people and the future generations, even at the risk of losing their own lives,” he said.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the fallen heroes would forever remain in the hearts of the people.
“While we remember, honour, and applaud their courage and sacrifice, let us not forget the futility of war.
“The needless sacrifice resulting not only in lives cut short, but families losing their love ones.
“Wars are never worth it.
“If you want to declare war, declare war on poverty, on ignorance, on corruption, on extremism, on racism and on terrorism.
“To go to war for national and economic interest is only an excuse by politician who failed to deliver and fulfil the needs of their citizens.
“That is why they need a distraction and they go to war,” Lim said.
Lim added that war should never be an option, unless it was in self defence against an invading army.
“While we remember these heroes and heroines, let us reaffirm and renew our commitment against war; war of any kind against another sovereign state.
“Let us remember them by ensuring that there will be no such needless sacrifice,” Lim said.
The ceremony began at about 7.50am with the catafalque guards from the 19th Squadron Royal Australian Air Force mounted around the cenotaph as a symbolic form of respect to those who have fallen.
A two-minute moment of silence was also observed. Representatives of government, non-government agencies, High Commissions, embassies, organisations and veterans took part in the wreath-laying ceremony.
Among those present were the Defence Advisor for the British High Commission Col Stephen Hall, Fiji High Commissioner to Malaysia Kolinio Gata Takali and Royal Thai consul-general to Penang Rittichai Tubsuwan.