State House, Freetown, Thursday 25 October 2018 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has launched the Poppy Week at State House, in honour of the military, where he was awarded the certificate of honour by the Ex-Service Men’s Association.
Usually a week-long event, the commemoration is observed each year by Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War, to remember their servicemen and women killed in all conflicts.
In his keynote address, President Bio, who doubles as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, expressed appreciation after receiving the honour and said that the award was of two importance: firstly, being the first ex-serviceman to attain the highest office in the land and secondly because it was an award given only to those who were democratically elected President. He said servicemen, both past and current, had served with bravery and courage and must, therefore, be respected for their service to the country.
The Commander-In-Chief also disclosed that his government was working to restructure and operate military pension schemes. He noted that the welfare of ex-servicemen continued to be an issue of concern, adding that his government was considering skills and vocational training programmes that would provide job opportunities for ex-military men.
“Today, like all other Commonwealth nations, we launch this year’s Poppy Week to remember our brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice for peace and the dignity of mankind. Today, we celebrate those who face death, knowing their nation and the world would be a better place if they made the ultimate sacrifice. It is our duty to celebrate their sacrifice and also our duty to respect their sacrifice. I implore all citizens to wear their poppy colours with pride and honour,” he said.
Head of the Ex-Service Men’s Association, Lt. Col (Rtd) Fatoma Gottor, said that they were pleased that President Bio was an ex-serviceman and had risen to the highest seat in the land. He said they had followed progress and were particularly pleased with the development strives already made and achieved by President Bio since he assumed office in April this year. He assured of their commitment to support the new administration in achieving its development programmes and expressed hope that the President would provide more opportunities to ex-servicemen.
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