Between January 1942 and October 1944, some 2,200 Baltimore bombers, Dakotas and Hudsons aircraft arrived from the United States of America (USA) and were ferried in similar fashion.
Mr Speaker, memories of the vital contributions made by the men and women from Ghana who fought in these wars have perhaps, grown dim. Even though majority of Ghana's world war veterans are deceased today, a pat on the back of the few that are alive today and a word to the memory of those who have departed, indeed, would give the assurance that Ghana is worth dying for.
It is for this reason that the Ministry of Defence considers it a national obligation to seek the welfare of all veterans.
In the 1930s, Mr Speaker, the ex- Servicemen Union was formed to champion the interests of soldiers who had fought in the First World War. Then later, the colonial administration instituted the Gold Coast Legion to cater for the needs of the war veterans. We all remember the sad event of 28th February, 1948 Christiansburg cross-roads shooting incident in which our compatriots Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey-Lamptey laid down their lives to hasten our struggle for political independence.
After independence in 1957, the Ghana Legion Act (No. 6) of 1960 was passed, making the Ghana Legion the sole representative of ex-servicemen and war veterans affairs in the country and this was reinforced in 1974 by the Legion Decree.
Mr Speaker, the desire to give better treatment to our veterans, led to the Ghana Legion being transformed into the Veterans Association of Ghana (VAG) and now, the Veterans Administration, Ghana (VAG). By the Veterans' Administration
Act, Act 844 2012, VAG has become a statutory body in the Public Service of Ghana and mandated to handle all matters related to the welfare of all veterans in Ghana.
Mr Speaker, on 11th November every year, the world celebrates the end of the First world War and this event is known as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day. The red artificial poppy has been adopted since 1921 to be worn in remembrance of that day. Throughout the world, the Poppy is associated with the remembrance of those who died in order that the world might have peace.
The poppy became a symbol of remembrance for some interesting reasons related to the First World War.
The western part of Belgium saw some of the most concentrated and bloodiest fighting of the First World War. There was complete devastation. Buildings, roads, trees and natural life simply disappeared. Only the Poppy survived, flowering each year with the coming of the warm weather. This brought a sense of life, hope, colour and reassurance to those who were still fighting.
Interestingly, the seeds of the poppies can lie in the ground for years without germinating, and only grow after the ground has been disturbed. Also, the brilliant red colour of the poppy, makes it an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.
Mr Speaker, I urge all Hon Members, public officials, corporate Ghana, ladies and gentlemen, the media and the general public to embrace the wearing of the red poppy, especially a few days to 11 th November to serve as a reminder that war and all armed conflicts are detrimental to human development.
My appeal is that, we all join hands to commemorate the death of all those, both military and civilians, who sacrificed their lives in the two world wars and all internal and external peacekeeping operations.
During the periods towards Remembrance Day, artificial poppies are distributed by the Veterans Adminis- tration, Ghana, in return for donations towards the raising of funds to support the veterans, especially those who need special treatment, particularly the destitute, aged, the hospitalised and widows. There are three (3) categories of Veterans in Ghana. These are:
War veterans, that is the demobilised survivors of the First and Second World Wars.
Gold Coast Veterans, that is those who served in the Gold Coast Regiment during the post-war period from 1946 to 1956.
Military Veterans, that is those who served in the Ghana Armed Forces and have honourably been released.
The first two categories are wholly maintained by the Veterans Administration and are housed in Amasaman, Kumasi and Tamale. Presently, there are over six hundred war and Gold Coast Veterans in the country. Some of these are destitutes with no known relatives outside their nuclear family. The main source of revenue for the Administration is monthly contributions by members who are in receipt of pension. Those who do not receive pension contribute nothing.
Apart from providing services to all veterans, the Administration is also engaged in revenue generation activities to further its objectives. These include
operation of guest houses, event centres and halls, a block making factory and the sale of poppies.
This year 's Remembrance Day Celebration is being marked with the following events:
A military band concert by the Ghana Armed Forces in collaboration with the Veterans Administration which took place last Thursday. This was held on 29th October, 2014.
Radio and Television programmes featuring veterans is underway
A float to be organised by the Veterans Administration
Grand Remembrance Day Celebration on 11th November 2014 to be organised by the State Protocol department and The Regional Co-ordinating Councils in conjunction with the Ghana Armed Forces and VAG.
Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate that in spite of the ravages of war as history has recently attested, we still have wars with us today.
The numerous peacekeeping opera- tions our soldiers are engaged in today, both inside and outside the African Continent are aimed at contributing to the restoration of peace in the world.
Let us pass the message round that war does not resolve but rather escalate conflict and leaves in its trail unnecessary suffering and destruction.
Lastly, Mr Speaker, I would once again urge all Hon Members, public officials, corporate Ghana, personnel of the media and the general public to patronise the Red Poppy. Wear the Red Poppy to remind ourselves that the resolution of a dispute by armed violence is obnoxious and must be avoided at all costs.
Thank you for the attention.