The past few years have not been entirely benign. The nation has been faced with nightmares that could never have been imagined long before now. It is no news that the country is at war – against terrorism. Boko Haram began its rebellion against the government in 2009, on the premise of creating an Islamic state. Since then, the country has been subjected to numerous attacks, ranging from killings, vandalism, bombing, kidnapping and other forms of assault.
Regardless of the uprising, our armed forces have been a cushion to the effect of unrest on the nation. They have been fighting valiantly and ceaselessly to ensure that the menace bedevilling the country does not overcome it.
Peace is never free; it often comes with a price of monumental sacrifice which could only be paid by bravery and profound selflessness. While we sleep, there are those who keep wake and fight to ensure that we see the light of dawn. Their contribution in combating insecurity is immeasurable; that which could never be repaid.
January 15, yearly, is the armed forces remembrance day, to celebrate the fallen heroes and those who still stand valiantly, ever ready to serve the country and its people whom they cherish than themselves. It is wonderful that a day is set aside to show gratitude and commemorate the armed forces.
Nonetheless, it is not enough to have these valiant men celebrated once a year. In other parts of the world, soldiers are treated like kings, not out of fear but deep regard and show of gratitude for their priceless works. Every now and then, a soldier is breathing his last for you and me to keep on living.
Precisely on Thursday morning, in Kurmin-Mashi, Kaduna state, there was this blind, old man trying to cross to the other side of the motorway and a soldier who was about boarding a taxi. Of a sudden he sighted the old man and then walked to the middle of the road, instructing all vehicles to stop.
He ensured that the old, blind man was able to cross the road as he repeated the same process on the other side of the road. His act was from a place of sincere love and selflessness to a nation and its people he had sworn to protect.
This is little, compared to the many unknown and unrecorded actions of these rare fellows. Therefore, it is important that we do not trivialise the undeniable sacrifices by only having a yearly commemoration for the military that only seems to them as a formality.
These men of valour should always be honoured and respected. They should be in our daily thoughts and prayers. There has to be a change in the way we see these people. They are not rams for the slaughter or slaves meant to serve and serve alone.
Our love for them should know no bounds and should be expressed in our words and actions, especially when we have them around. The wrongs they do are usually escalated while records of their heroic actions are swept under the carpet.
The country is served diligently by these undercelebrated men, who would even do more if shown that they are genuinely appreciated. Imagine being far away from home and those you love, under extremely-unfriendly weather and situations, all in service to humanity.
According to Joseph Campbell, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”. Our soldiers are true heroes. Let us love, honour and celebrate them each passing day, for they deserve so much more than they get.
God bless the Nigerian armed forces for its altruism. God bless the families they have and those they live behind in death or service. God bless the people of a nation, indivisible under God.
Samuel Lance Momodu Jnr,