Monday, October 26, 2009

SA Defence Force Wall of Remembrance


The official inauguration of the SA Defence Force Wall of Remembrance was held on Sunday, 25 October 2009 at the Voortrekker Monument Heritage Site, Pretoria.

The Wall of Remembrance was erected to honour approximately 2500 members of the SA Defence Force who died on duty, between 1961 (foundation of Republic) to 1994 (change to the SANDF). The Wall was erected without any state finance, after it became clear that management of Freedom Park were not going to change its stance on adding former SA Defence Force dead to its Wall of Remembrance.

The following words, among others, were spoken by General Constand Viljoen during the inauguration:

“Not one of the people whose names appear here, have died in vain. Besides the contribution that they delivered towards the fall of communism worldwide, they also made a contribution towards maintaining South Africa until a political solution came…. Today we pay some of our own guilt to a group of soldiers and their families who sacrificed everything for the ideals of a free South Africa.” --- (Translated from the Afrikaans Beeld Newspaper, dated Monday, 26 October 2009)

Freedom Park
The park, located on a 52ha site on Salvokop that overlooks the Pretoria central business district, opened officially in December 2007, but there was much controversy before that date when the Park's Memorial Wall was unveiled - without the names of SADF soldiers who died in the Bush War in Angola and SWA. The names of those who died in the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902), the two World Wars and the freedom struggle, are on the Wall as well as those of Cubans who died in Angola.

According to the website of Freedom Park, the core function of the Park is the creation of a memorial that will narrate the story of South Africa’s pre-colonial, colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid history and heritage, spanning a period of 3.6 billion years of humanity, to acknowledge those that contributed to the freedom of the country and managing the Freedom Park as a cultural institution.

On 9 August 2008, Freedom Park Trust hosted a function in honour of the families of the South African Defense Force (SADF) soldiers who died in the Bush War during the period 1966 – 1994. The function included a wreath laying ceremony as well as the launch of a memorial book inscribed with the names of the deceased SADF soldiers. The function was planned to coincide with Women's Day for those women who lost a loved one in the Bush War, --- rather farcical considering that their loved ones names were not allowed to be on display in the Park.

On 20 March 2009 the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) called for a boycott of Freedom Park in Pretoria after a new gallery at the memorial neglected to pay tribute to Afrikaner leaders. (Click here for the full story).

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