Independence Anniversary Kicks Off with Investiture Ceremony: Ebola Victims Honored

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(MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Thursday, July 24, 2014) The Liberian Government has conferred honors on 18 distinguished individuals, one of them posthumously, the World Health Organization-Liberia and all the Health Workers affected by the Ebola virus ravaging the country, thus kick-starting the somber official celebrations of Liberia’s 167th Independence Anniversary, though with a divergence.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Investiture Ceremony took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium in the presence of high-ranking government officials, diplomats, well-wishers and family members of the honorees.

In brief remarks, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is also Grand Master of the Orders of Distinction, paid homage to all of them who had served their country diligently and selflessly. 

The Liberian leader paid specific homage and honor to the late Dr. Sam Mutooro Muhumuza, a Ugandan national, and all the health workers around the country who have made the ultimate sacrifice in saving lives. “To their families, loved ones, associates, we extend our heartfelt sympathy,” she said, adding that Government will shortly reach out to the families of the departed health workers to bring them comfort in their times of trials and tribulations.

President Sirleaf expressed appreciation to all the health workers – doctors, nurses, para-medics – who continue to be of service to the Liberian people in the midst of danger to themselves. “We like to say to them how much we appreciate what they do to contribute to helping the country arrest the deadly Ebola disease.”

The Liberian leader, again, appealed to all Liberians, especially those in the communities to know that the Ebola epidemic is real. “No one is trying to put up an act or to fool them or think that someone has motives other than to protect them and to help them to save their lives,” she stressed, urging them to heed the warning and advice of health workers.

Earlier, the Citation by the President on behalf of the Health Workers affected by Ebola virus disease read by the Chief of Protocol, Republic of Liberia, Ambassador Rufus Neufville stated: “Our Nation seizes this occasion to pay a richly deserved tribute of love and affection and respect to the memories of its devoted health practitioners who lost their lives in order to save other Liberians…Certainly, by their sense of unquestionable display of loyalty and devotion to duty, the Health Workers have built temples of honor and of virtue, of industry and of unselfishness, qualities which will have impact on the health services and the life of this Nation forever.”

To the late Dr. Sam Mutooru Muhumuza, another victim of the Ebola virus, the Citation by the President read: “…The finest moment of the professional life of the deceased would be recorded when he undertook the assignment to Liberia, as a manifestation for the promotion of international cooperation, to provide humanitarian service to the people of Liberia. It is in recognition of his collaborative and selfless service to the Liberian people that the Government deeply shares a sense of sorrow with the Government and people of Uganda and his family to whom he Liberian Nation is morally indebted. He would be remembered as a true international servant who exhibited competence and intelligence at the highest echelon of his profession and distinction.”

For the World Health Organization –Liberia, the Citation by the President considered the enormous contributions to the cause of humanity, especially the people of Liberia in line with its global mission and the mandate of its Liberia Country office which is to promote the attainment of the highest sustainable level of health by all people living in Liberia through close engagement and collaboration with the government and other partners.

Responding later on behalf of the honorees, the former Liberian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Wesley Momo Johnson, expressed grateful thanks and appreciation to the Government for recognizing them in terms of the contributions they have made to Liberia. “It is impossible to find words that can sufficiently express our appreciation to you, Madam President. We are humbled and exalted by this national recognition,” the former Vice President of the National Transitional Government of Liberia said, adding that they accept the award with a deep sense of humility. He cautioned the present generation not to repeat the mistakes of the past that eventually brought the chaos and destruction upon the country. 

Also making remarks, another honoree, Madam Catherine E. Johnson, Educator, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur, said they were proud to be honored by the Grand Master of the Orders of Distinction. “We are proud because it shows that our services to our people and country have been appreciated and well commended,” the nonagenarian said, adding that the honor bestowed on them exemplified their commitment and dedication to duty during their service to the Nation and people.

The granddaughter of Liberia’s 11th President, Hilary Richard Wright Johnson urged young Liberians to love their country; do away with deceit, backbiting, and undermining, noting that as Liberians there is a need to put the country first.

Those honored included two Nonagenarians – Madam Catherine E. Johnson and Madam Joanna Eva Coleman George – both of who were admitted into the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Grand Band; and Madam Theresa Leigh Sherman, distinguished Educator and Administrator, admitted into the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Grand Band.

Two other Nonagenarians – Distinguished Sanitary Engineer, Mr. William T. Bruce, Sr. and Priest and Educator, Very Rev. Emmanuel Wea Johnson – were admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption with the Grade of Knight Great Band, respectively; Diplomat and Politician, Ambassador Wesley Momo Johnson was also admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption with the Grade of Knight Great Band.

Administrator, Deputy Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Executive Vice President of Liberia Corporate Registry (LISCR), Mr. William Wu (British), Director-General of the Liberia Institute of Statistics, Dr. T. Edward Liberty, and Prominent Businessman/Entrepreneur, Mr. Samuel Mitchell, were admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption with the Grade of Knight Grand Commander, respectively.

Former Aide-de-Camp to the President, Margibi County, Brigadier General Richard K. Wright, Executive Horn Blower, Mr. Gabriel N. Wilson, and Advocate/Administrator, Founder of the Albino Society of Liberia, Madam Patricia N. C. Logan, were all admitted into the Human Order of African Redemption with the Grades of Knight Commander, Knight Official and Dame Official, respectively.

President of the Liberia Marketing Association, Madma Lusu Klobo Sloan, Principal/Blind Teacher – School of the Blind, Mr. Jackson M. Suah; Educator and Administrator, Mr. Aaron Loila; and Educator and Administrator, Rev. Samuel Kpadia, were all admitted into the Star of Africa with the Grade of Commander, respectively.

The World Health Organization-Liberia was admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption with the Grade of Knight Grand Commander. 

The late Ugandan Medical Doctor assigned at the Redemption Hospital, Dr. Sam Mutooro Muhumuza, was posthumously admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption with the Grade of Knight Grand Commander. On hand to accept his award with the Chief Medical Officer of the Republic of Liberia and Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice Dahn.

All the Health Workers affected by the Ebola Virus, were posthumously admitted into the Star of Africa with the Grade of Officers, respectively.

The Investiture Ceremonies will continue at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion, during the official celebration of Liberia’s Independence Anniversary on Saturday, July 26. Educator, Administrator, Psychologist and President of the William V.S. Tubman University, Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell, who’s also the Independence Day Orator, will be admitted into the Star of Africa with the Grade of Grand Band.

Educator, Lawyer, Administrator, Eminent Statesman and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, His Honor Cllr. Johnnie N. Lewis will also be admitted into the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers with the Grade of Knight Grand Commander during the program.