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Lazarus Chakwera leads Remembrance Sunday

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NOT LEFT BEHIND—Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa lays his wreath on the site

As the hands of time clocked 11 in the morning President Lazarus Chakwera arrived at Mzuzu Upper Stadium where a cenotaph of war veterans who fought during the first and second world wars was erected.

The time 11 O’clock is memorable as, at 11 o’clock in the morning of November 11 exactly 102 years ago, warring groups reached a consensus to end World War I which claimed over 10 million lives of combatants. Twenty million others were left to nurse wounds of various degrees.

In Mzuzu Sunday, a gunshot was fired at 11:02am and was followed by two minutes of total silence in remembrance of ex-service men and women lost to the two world wars.

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Then, noise emanating from another round of gunfire followed, signifying the end of the silence, and a bugle call known as ‘The Last Post’ was played.

Chakwera, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Defense Force (MDF), led Malawians who had gathered for the military event by laying a wreath of poppies at the centre of the cenotaph.

Others who laid wreaths included MDF Commander Vincent Nundwe, Inspector General of Police George Kainja, Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Gotani Hara, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, members of diplomatic corps, among others.

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The event, which leaves no room for speeches, ended soon after a short religious service— and another bugle call known as The Rouse was played followed by presidential salute, the national anthem. Chakwera departed immediately after.

Speaking after the ceremony, Nankhumwa said the fighters did not die in vain; hence, Malawians can show appreciation to them by professing unity.

He added that there was a need for the government to construct in Mzuzu a permanent pillar for the war veterans.

“Time is now that the government should seriously consider building a permanent pillar where all these activities should be held. We also need to come up with a proper policy because, year in year out, we keep on asking for funds to help these people. We can sit down, maybe through the Parliament, and make deliberate provisions,” he said.

One of the veterans, 85-year-old Major Frank Masiano from Cobbe Barracks Memorial Home, said he was happy that they were being properly looked after.

Apart from remembering World War veterans, people utilise Remembrance Day to honour those that died while on peacekeeping duty.

In Lilongwe, Vice-President Saulos Chilima led heads of diplomatic missions and other Malawi Defence Force officials in commemorating the day when he laid a wreath at the cenotaph.

Secretary General of the Veteran and Ex-Service League of Malawi, retired Brigadier General Geoffrey Hara, said the country still had 13 soldiers who fought in world wars.

“This is a great day because we remember the contribution of Malawian soldiers who took part in the world wars,” Hara said.

Remembrance Day is observed on November 11 in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of the First World War on that date in 1918.

Hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in accordance with terms of the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning.

The First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28 1919.

In Zomba the commemorations were led by Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who represented the State President.

Kandodo Chiponda led in the laying of wreaths, followed by Commissioner of Police Responsible for the Eastern region Arlene Baluwa and Malawi Air Force Commander Major General Ian Chirwa.

Meanwhile, Major Frank Kayanula of 1 Malawi Riffles has appealed to the citizenry to be assisting war veterans whom, he said, were in need of basic necessities.

Remembrance Sunday Parade is commemorated on every second Sunday of November to honour war veterans.

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