Monday, July 16, 2007

Memorial for fallen Lebanese soldiers

For some strange reason, the Army has decided to cancel the Army Day on August 1. Now, more than ever, would be a good time to honor the army especially since so many soldiers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Luckily, there’s always Qartaba to save the day.

The main church in Qartaba, the Mar Elias Church, held a memorial service this Sunday to pay homage to all the fallen soldiers. So far, 97 have been killed during the Nahr al Bared siege and still the fighting continues. So it was high time to honor the army.

It was a beautiful service with many people attending. All the four security services in Lebanon sent their representatives and the army has sent their marching band. After the service was over, they played the hymn for the fallen soldier, followed by laud applause from the public. Even for a Dutch man like me, it was a moment to be proud of the army.

Interesting enough, there was no TV coverage. Perhaps the army wanted it to be a low key event. Also, the former MP from Qartaba, Fares Soueid was not present during the service. No wonder perhaps since he barely escaped an attack on his life by people wearing soldier uniforms during the January demonstration.

From what I have seen of the Lebanese army, it looks as if they are restoring their credibility fast. After being passive pretty much ever since Lebanon became independent, the last two years were a complete watershed. Not only did they regain control over most of the country, they also engaged Islam fundamentalists in the Nahr el Bared camp.

Sure, one can argue not to trust the army given their history and given the fact that most, if not all, senior management was appointed under Syrian tutelage. Yet, most people have little problem adapting to new realities and change loyalties quickly. Consider the former East bloc, e.g.: most of the die-hard communists simply threw away their believes overnight and embraced democracy and capitalism without much problems.

Who’s to say the Lebanese army cannot equally adapt to the post-Syria era? Looking at the intensity with which they have engaged the Syrian proxy Fatah al-Islam, it seems they are doing fine, just fine.


Liliane said...

Very weird, they should'nt have cancelled, August 1, 2007 should be celebrated as a way to honor the Army's martyrs!