Eternal vigilance needed to preserve Guyana’s sovereignty – PM
…as Chief of Staff assures veterans of GDF’s commitment to protect borders
Prime Minister, Brigadier (Retired) Mark Phillips on Sunday reminded of the importance of eternal vigilance, during his Remembrance Day address to Guyanese veterans who fought in World War II.
During his address at the Guyana Veterans Legion Remembrance Day service, the Prime Minister spoke of the importance of being custodians of the stories and legacies of Guyana’s veterans to ensure their sacrifices are not forgotten.
“Today, once again, we stand in gratitude to these servicemen for their service. And we’re reminded of the importance of honouring our heroes and preserving the legacy they have bequeathed to all of us. In 1914, 700 British Guiana soldiers and officers left our shores and enlisted in the 1914-1918 British West Indies regiment.”
“These servicemen, far from home, faced unimaginable challenges on foreign shores. Yet, their spirits remain unbroken. And their dedication to service and love for the country would mark them down in Guyana’s history as heroes. So today, we humbly pay tribute to their selflessness and the sacrifices that they made during the transformative era,” Phillips said.
According to Phillips, the courage demonstrated by the veterans is an example of the importance of uplifting those who have dedicated their lives to Guyana. He noted that Guyana has a collective responsibility to recognise and support them. The lessons imparted by the veterans are of special significance now, since Guyana is in the midst of a border controversy that has seen Venezuela threatening to annex Essequibo.
“Remembrance Day must not be a single-day occasion. Instead, it should serve as a moment in time that beckons us to keep the memories of our heroes alive. Even as we stand at this critical moment in our country’s history,” the Prime Minister said.
“When we are faced with actions that threaten our sovereignty under the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, we can use the courage and sacrifice of these servicemen as a guiding light, reminding us of the need for eternal vigilance to preserve our country’s sovereignty over our territory.”
However, a pledge of $100,000 was made to each surviving veteran of World War II. Additionally, the Prime Minister noted that a contribution would be made to the widows of the veterans who are no longer with them.
Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief of Staff Omar Khan, who was also present at the event, meanwhile heralded the contributions made by the veterans, who he noted paved the way for the office he now holds.
“At the time of taking over the office, I was handed over 83,000 square miles of our land. And what I need to tell you is that those 83,000 square miles are intact. And I intend to keep it that way. The GDF will continue to support the Guyana Veterans Legion,” Khan said.
“And we are happy to collaborate because to protect and defend Guyana, there’s a saying ‘I stand depending on where I sit’. I know where I sit. The office of Chief of Staff. But where I stand is on your soldiers, because I’m continuing to defend and protect Guyana.”
Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday of November, while Remembrance Day is observed on November 11 annually by Commonwealth countries to honour those who died in world wars.
The Guyana Veterans Legion (GVL) was established in April 2014 as a result of the amalgamation of the Guyana Legion and the X-GDF Association of Guyana. (G-8)