The president, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama on Monday morning laid a wreath in commemoration of the fallen heroes in Gaborone at the Three Chiefs monument (the three Dikgosi monuments).
The ‘Fallen Heroes Day’ aimed to remember the fifteen BDF soldiers who were killed during the Lesoma ambush near present day Zimbabwe, among others. The ambush took place on April 27, 1978, by the then Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) regime under then Prime Minister, Ian Smith. The Office of the President said in a statement that President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament and other dignitaries graced the event.
The statement said that the ‘Fallen Heroes Day’ was declared an annual event in order to honour all service members who died in the line of duty. The BDF this year extended the commemoration to include veterans of the two World Wars and other personnel who made a significant contribution to national security.
Speaking at the commemoration, Lieutenant General Placid Segokgo said the event is not meant to mourn the heroes and heroines, but rather to celebrate their sacrifice to Botswana. He said the commemoration has always been held concurrently in Gaborone, Francistown, Thebephatswa Air Base and Selebi Phikwe, adding that this year Lesoma was added to the list of venues.
He explained that Lesoma is significant because it’s the place where the earliest and largest wartime loss the BDF suffered, where fifteen members perished in a single event. The commander said there is no doubt that the fallen heroes form an integral part of BDF’s four decades of existence. He said he is convinced that the heroes’ vision would be further realised if their descendants took a moment each year to honour them.
The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) held ‘Fallen Heroes Day’ commemorations in various parts of the country on Friday to celebrate all fallen war heroes who perished in the line of duty supporting peace operations, during training and inter-regional deployments.
Meanwhile, Lesoma village the site of the ambush also commemorated the fallen heroes for the first time this year.
Source: Radio Botswana news
Picture credit: U.S. Army Africa photo by Sgt. Adam Fischman, 139th MPAD