Victory Day is celebrated in Sri Lanka to remind her people about the war that once haunted the nation. We can only talk about the Civil War in the past tense thanks the soldiers and leaders who bravely fought against that land greedy terrorist group. While curfews are now part of the past, one can go about without wondering if the person next to you is a suicide bomber. There was a time when students had to make sure schools were actually open before leaving home. Buses, shops or companies, no one knew who or what could be hit next. Today though, the skies are clearer, and the roads are safer. People go to Jaffna almost as if it wasn’t once where thousands of lives were ended.
And yet, people are still skeptical about this state of peace. Sure, the conflict isn’t over, it went from being political to racial. We may have to spend years to bring the country to a perfectly peaceful state. Yet, no matter what, the war is over. At least for now. And all those who sacrificed their lives for this war deserve a day dedicated for them. We have Independence Day to remind us of the struggles fought to pull the country away from the claws of the British. It only makes sense then, to have a day to remind us of Sri Lanka’s latest war victory.
One of the criticisms of the day was the money spent on the celebrations. Did we need the air crafts booming over us? How much money was spent on training the soldiers for their various performances? With the recent price hike, people didn’t understand why the government would spend the taxpayer’s hard earned money on a celebration that didn’t seem necessary.
Here’s the thing though. We all need reminding. Of the bloodshed, hatred, anger and tears that once seemed to define Sri Lanka. We need to be reminded that just a few years ago, we walked down roads in fear. Public transport was a nightmare. Breaking News took over our cartoons and movies. Have we forgotten the checkpoints that we all cursed? Have we also forgotten the silent prayer of thanks when explosions were uncovered before it was all too late? Victory Day is a reminder, yet, it isn’t only that.
It shouldn’t only remind us of the state the country is in now, or our various achievements. Battles were lost, but the final war was won. And thanks to whom? The ones who didn’t leave the comforts of their homes? Who didn’t want their hands stained in blood? No, the innocent soldiers who killed and were killed. Those who survived are also heroes. We are in debt to them for all they sacrificed. We can worship them, thank them, donate money. We can also write book after book about the war we survived. The forces of evil that are no more.
Or we can celebrate Victory Day along with those who are to be thanked for such a day. No complaining, no questioning its uselessness. Just be proud to have survived the war, to have not fled like so many people. Be proud to be Sri Lankan!