Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remember the Fallen

I am unabashedly open about my patriotism, hence it is only to be expected that one of my earliest posts will be on Tugu Peringatan Negara, or the National Monument. It is also a matter of serendipity that I had to pass through the Lake Gardens on my way to volunteering at the SPCA on Saturday. It wasn’t the best of conditions to go traipsing up to the monument. The sun rained down on me mercilessly as I jogged up the steps. I wondered if it weren’t a better idea to come on Sunday when the Tugu Drum Circle has its jam session.
I made a quick stop at the Cenotaph for a moment of quiet contemplation for those who had sacrificed their lives in order that our country remains democratic and sovereign.

The Cenotaph was created by the British administration to commemorate those who had lost their lives in World War I, World War II and the Malaysian Emergency. The inscription on the Cenotaph reads: “To Our Glorious Dead 1914-1918 (i.e. The First World War) 1939 – 1945 (The Second World War) and 1948 – 1960 (The Malaysian Emergency)

From the Cenotaph, I walked through the complex providing shade for visitors, past the waterscape and finally, stood before the National Monument in humility and awe.

A fountain at the National Monument complex.

Designed by American sculptor Felix de Weldon, the same architect who created the Iwo Jima Memorial Monument in Washington, this 15.54m high bronze monument was constructed in 1966 to honor the country's fallen heroes during the communist insurrection. Many members of the Malaysian Security Forces (of which my buddy Jake’s granduncle was a member) lost their lives during the Emergency, a 12-year struggle against communist insurgency that ended in 1960. The Malaysian Armed Forces were successful in crushing the armed rebellion and thus the communists failed in their attempt to set up a communist state in a very strategic point in Southeast Asia.

Long live Malaysia! Long live Democracy!

The National Monument, known in Bahasa Malaysia as ‘Tugu Peringatan Negara’, is one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world. The seven bronze soldiers represent seven noble qualities: Leadership, Unity, Strength, Vigilance, Suffering, Courage and Sacrifice.

Monuments, by their very nature, are designed to convey political or historical information. But the Tugu Peringatan Negara, to me, conveys a message not so much of bloody battles but of love and commitment to one’s cause. Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori.

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