I have been asking myself why a shrine was never built for our soldiers who sacrificed their lives to secure our nation from communist insurgency and from the secessionist movement. In my 17 years in the military service, I witnessed how our soldiers dedicated their lives just to make sure our country did not fall into communism and protected our sovereignty and our territorial integrity. I saw their bravery and patriotism in the face of battles even with meager logistical support. I saw many of them died right before my eyes. I cried when I saw them crying in pain because of fatal wounds which I knew would lead to their death, and the wounded which I knew will cripple them for life. Thousands of our soldiers died and were incapacitated for life for our people’s sake. They gave their lives so our people can live peacefully.
I have seen families of soldiers mourned for their loss. And so with the families of thousands of soldiers killed in action since our counter-insurgency campaign started in late 60’s up to this date.What I have seen in their faces were not only sorrow but fear of going through a life without their husbands, sons, and brothers.
Our soldiers went to war without political leanings but only as good soldiers trying their best to accomplish their mission to defend our country and to put order in our communities. It was born out of their love for our country and duty to defend and uphold the constitution. This was their love for us. They are our heroes, our patriots. No one can take that from them. No one can even blame them. They only deserve our gratitude.
The irony of it is that the enemies of the state who were the reason why our soldiers went to war have the privilege of putting their own shrines and wall as memorials for their comrades. They even labeled them ‘Mga Bayani’ or heroes. One of their shrines is even beside the Andres Bonifacio shrine in Quezon City. They also a have a wall called, “The Wall of Remembrance” at Bantayog ng Mga Bayani in Quezon City where the names of their comrades were inscribed. What a grateful gesture to honor their friends and comrades. Our fallen heroes and patriots, on the other hand, have none except for their names written on their graves.
I got a simple answer to my own question. Our state was governed for 30 years by a ruling political and economic elite who were formerly declared national security threats or enemies of the state during those chaotic years of our nation’s life. Obviously, they preferred to give tribute to the so-called ‘victims of martial law’ rather than honor our soldiers who died fighting to save our country from these so-called victims. I consider this as having no love for our soldiers and a reproof to the military establishment. Another answer is, we simply have forgotten them for lack of appreciation and ungratefulness.
What a shame!
Now that these people are no longer in power, I pray that President Rodrigo Duterte and the defense department including the AFP would build a shrine at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, similar to that of the wall of veterans at the American Cemetery in Taguig City or the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York. I also pray that a shrine or a wall where the names of alumni who were killed in action will be built in Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City. This will serve as a reminder for every cadet, alumni, and all citizens of our country the bravery and patriotism of Peemayers. I hope that the PMAAA with Senator Ping Lacson and Senator Gringo Honasan including alumni who are now congressmen and local government leaders can initiate this project.
These are very small investments for our government and our people to remember and honor the heroism and patriotism of our soldiers. It is indeed too small compared to the billions of pesos being pocketed by our corrupt politicians. The shrines or walls of remembrance should include all names of those who died during the counter-insurgency operations of our government. It should be a continuing task for DND and the AFP to make sure that the name of every Filipino soldier who will die in combat will be engraved in these shrines.
Building these shrines will be our way of paying tribute to our forgotten heroes and patriots. This is also our way of expressing our gratitude to them and to their families. They will be memorials which will remind all Filipinos what our soldiers have done for them.
If we could do this, then our fallen soldiers will no longer be forgotten but as hailed heroes and patriots – our national pride to be remembered by all generations. They will be drivers to fuel heroism and patriotism.
(Photos courtesy of the Philippine Army /northboundasia.com/abmc.gov/Storm Crypt)