Wednesday, March 13, 20123 was observed across Liberia as national Decoration Day. The Day, declared by a Presidential Proclamation released in Monrovia by the Foreign Ministry this week, was in recognition of the country’s heroes and heroines, who lived and died in the interest of their country.
In observance of national Decoration Day, all public buildings and business houses were closed. The Presidential Proclamation was in consonance with an Act approved on October 24, 1916 by the National Legislature, declaring the second Wednesday of March each year as Decoration Day and observed throughout the Republic as a national holiday.
The Day was also observed as a way of remembering the numerous contributions of the dead (while alive) to the growth and development of their living relatives, friends and loved, as well as the nation in general. Across the country yesterday, relatives, friends and loved ones of the deceased gathered at the various cemeteries with activities geared toward giving face-lift to the various grave sites.
Punctuating the essence of yesterday’s observance of Decoration Day at the various grave sites throughout the country, was pomp and pageantry, other than sober reflections which should have been at the core of such public holiday in Liberia. While the activities of a few at the various cemeteries were characterized by prayers and sober reflections on the deeds of their loved ones in tears, others celebrated with all sorts of alcoholic beverages – in a number of instances resulting to conflicts of various kinds.
In as much as we do agree that individuals who chose celebration over solemnization of national Decoration Day may have had their rights to do so, they were also in the wrong to desecrate the essence and memorialization of the Day to the disrespect and honor of the dead. This is why we once more reiterate our call for the current Liberian Legislature to revisit the Act creating National Decoration Day for renewal.
Such process under the auspices of our lawmakers must ensure the transformation of the current Decoration Day to a National Memorial Day to reflect a true sense/essence of the day. The observance of National Memorial Day must be characterized by church/memorial services, while city corporations across the country administer the various cemeteries in consonance with their respective audiences.
Already, some of these city corporations, including the MCC have begun the process of cleaning-up the various cemeteries before the actual day. And they must be appreciated for doing do so days ahead of Decoration Day, even though their positive actions were not only disappointing, but annoying to criminals and hustlers who use these cemeteries as hide-outs.
We are of the fervent belief that in the absence of the foregoing, there will continuously be abuses characterizing the objective(s) of National Decoration Day, thus rendering the day not only meaningless, but one set aside every year for “people to jolly-jolly”.
We, therefore, plea to the consciences of members of the House of Representatives and Liberian Senate to go beyond all sentiments to ensure a repeal of the Act creating National Democrat ion Day and enactment of a National Memorial Day law to enable us positively reflect, in prayers, the meaningful contributions of the dead to our socio-economic growth and development as relatives, friends and loved ones.
Toward this direction, we also seek the intervention of the Liberia Council of Churches and other Christian groups and organizations (in persuading the Liberian Legislature for the enactment of a law to uphold the respect and dignity of the dead).