Sunday, August 17, 2008

City of People: Long Live the Republic - The Story of A Veteran

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Today, August 17th, sixty three years ago, Indonesia proclaimed its independence. The history about our country's struggle for independence, our flag, and our coat of arms (the quintessential symbols of our existence as a nation state), may be found anywhere else on the internet. So, instead of picturing those symbols, allow me to share with you today the story of an individual; an eye-witness to our struggle for independence and for defending it against the colonial forces that was trying to recapture their former colony and subdue our independence.

Veteran 2

He might be a nobody. He might look like anybody. He's old and fragile. But it was for him and people like him that we now enjoy our independence.

B

His name is Saleh. A simple name. No title. No glittering stars decorating his chest. Only two simple and worn-out medals recognizing the service he had given to his country. He's wearing them proudly today. He's a fragile 78 year old man now. He was barely 15 when Indonesia proclaimed its independence. Yet, when the duty called to defend the young Republic, he unhesitantly raised his arms: ready to give his life to defend his rights, his people's rights, and the rights of all human kinds - freedom!

Veteran 5

I met him today at the Gasibu Square (the field in front of Gedung Sate, Bandung, West Java's governor's office mansion), just after the ceremony commemorating the 63rd anniversary of our proclamation of independence. He's still very much spirited when I asked him to share the story about the battles that took place in Bandung and its surrounding areas to defend the young Republic.

Veteran 4

I hope we will never forget men and women like him who fought for our independence. Our independence did not come as a free gift. We should never take it for granted. It is our turn now to give our best, so that the country that he and many others like him had helped established may prosper and have a dignified place among nations.

19 comments:

Anu said...

Happy Independence Day.
Thank you for sharing the story of the great man, and the freedom struggle. I love his portrait. His expressions say it all.

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PJ said...

These are extraordinary photographs of an extraordinary man. I'm sure his life story is as fascinating as his face and the character it reflects.Congratulations on your Independence Day and may you celebrate many more.

Layrayski said...

Happy Independence Day Indenesia!

Virginia said...

Eki,
What a moving tribute to the people of your country who fought for your independence. Your photographs are remarkable today. Independence Day is a special time for a country to come together to celebrate and remember.

ken mac said...

The first shot reminds of something by robert capa. Well done.

Carrie Hayes said...

What amazing photos of an amazing man! Great job and wonderful story..Happy Independence Day!!!

ilham said...

love the picture, nice....just visiting..., keep up the great work

melanie said...

Au début je croyais qu'il s'agissait d'une statue ! Bel hommage à ceux qui ont combattu. Et joyeux anniversaire de l'indépendance.

Mais l'indépendance suffit-elle à rendre les citoyens heureux ?

babooshka said...

Wonderful portraits and words. Quite right we should bever forget people such as these.

Tash said...

Such a moving tribute to an individual who made a difference. Beautiful photos - Happy Independence Day!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Congratulations on your county and its Independence Day.

I read your entire post today and enjoyed it very much. I was especially interested in the gentleman who is a veteran of that struggle for your independence.

You did him a great honor. I hope he can somehow see the post. I am sure he would enjoy seeing it.

Thank you very much for inviting me over to help celebrate.

Rambling Woods said...

What a heart warming post Eki. You managed to catch the fighting spirit of the veteran. Happy Independence Day!!!

Laurie said...

Amazing photos, Eki. Truly wonderful.

Happy Independence Day!!!

Mo said...

Well done Eki, these are great shots. I love the first one it is powerful. The last one I love as you see the man's fragility.

JM said...

What a beautiful post, Eki! Your words are really moving and the photos are fabulous!
Congratulations on your good work!
Greetings

Hilda said...

Belated happy independence day!

Sorry for the late greeting — my husband and I decided to go off during the weekend.

I love how you commemorated your independence. You are so right about veterans and we should honor and respect them more. For many of them as individuals, the chance to re-tell their story is already a big deal.

Jangan said...

Not a bad photo from my grammar teacher! Yes, the spirit in the photos was in evidence throughout the nation at the weekend. I'm glad you picked up on an individual like the old boy. The press have rather focussed on mass celebrations.

Petrea said...

Nice portrait work (I like the black and white, too).

Kelly said...

Your portraits are very well done. I really like the first one very much. I think that here in the US, we too tend to forget that people weren't just born old, and haven't always been old - that they had amazing lives once and now have even more amazing stories.