by Prasanna De Silva (2009/06/13)

In this momentous time in the history of Sri Lanka it is with justified pride we note the contributions made by fellow Anandians in bringing an end to the bloody and devastating terrorism that prevailed in our country for over there decades. However, we first remember with much appreciation and gratitude all those who made the supreme sacrifice because of their stand and belief in the fight against terrorism.  They include World and National Leaders such as President Premadasa, Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi, Mr Laxshman Kadiragama (arguably the best ever Minister of Foreign Affairs we had), Rev Seelalankara (Dimbulagala Hamuduruwo) Mr Neelan Thiruchelvam and Senior Officers of our Defence Forces, Maj Gen. Denzel Kobbekaduwa, Maj. Gen Lucky Algama, Maj. Gen Paarami Kulathunga, Maj. Gen Janaka Perera, Vice Admiral Clancy Fernando, to the innocent civilians of all ages from infants to invalids who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Today we rejoice in the annihilation of the military capability of the terrorist organisation which brought untold misery and devastation to our country of birth, and the role of the Anandians who spearheaded that fight, from cabinet ministers to our Military Commanders. Every one would agree that it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s astute leadership, unwavering political will, steadfastness, and his confidence in his Defence Forces  were  the key elements that paved the way for the military victory.  He was ably supported by the Prime Minister Mr Ratanasiri Wickramanayake, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogolloagama, Senior Presidential Adviser, Minister Basil Rajapakse, Minister Dallas Alahapperuma, and Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who are all Anandians. They all played a pivotal role in bringing an end to terrorism, but it was the brave and determined personnel of our Defence Forces that made this historic victory a reality.

In the final battles of liberation and humanitarian operations, the majority of the key players in the Defence Establishment were Anandians. The Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Gen Sarath Fonseka, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Admiral Wasantha Karranagoda, and the Director General Civil Defence Force Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekra are all Anandians. Led by Gotabhaya they were the main strategists and the motivators.

Of the six Divisional Commanders who led the final assault, four were Anandians. They are Maj. Gen. Jagath Dais (57 Division), Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratna (53 Division), Brig. Prasanna de Silva (55 Division) Brig. Chargee Gallage (Task Force 2 and Commander of the Commando Battalion). In addition to the above mentioned Anandians some of the other key Anandian Officers who played a major part are Brig Mahesh Senanayake, (Director Planning and former Brigade Commander of the Special Forces),  Commander for Naval East (Com-East) Rear Admiral Ananda Peiris, Senior DIG Mahinda Balasuriya,  Commanding Officer of the Sniper Unit Col Sanjaya Wanasinghe (he is also the son of the former Army Commander Gen Hamilton Wanasinghe who was also an Anandian ), and  many more Anandian officers from the Army Navy and the Air Force including a host of Brigade Commanders who are too many to mention by name. We salute all of them from the lowest to the highest ranking officers who fought to preserve the territorial integrity of our county.

Anandians have always had a great desire and a tradition of serving in the Armed Forces. We have an enviable record in Cadetting. Three of our Principals in the recent past, Col Perusinghe, Col Rajapakse, and Col Kudaligama were also Senior Volunteer Officers in the Army. We have had four Army Commanders who were Anandians. I believe today Ananda has the unique distinction of having an Anandian in every rank, from Private to General in the Sri Lanka Army.

Commenting on a recent email which was floating around praising our valiant Anandians, an Anandian from the mid sixties era, Devasiri Rodrigo (who was a former Chairman of the prestigious Ceylon Chamber of Commerce) posed this question which I believe were in our minds as well: “What I am searching for is the common quality, attitude, value or other attribute that made these Anandians fearless, military strategists of excellence, patriotic to the core, leaders who motivated their troops, disciplined and committed to the cause.”  They are all that and more. I do not think in living memory we have had any group of Anandians who have made us so proud.

I do not have an answer to that question Deva had raised. But one thing I know is at Ananda without even realising it we all acquired a deep sense of national pride and patriotism. We had self belief and pride and appreciation of our heritage and culture. No amount of taunts of “we are ole Ananda kullage bois, our kalas are marung an gawld, we go to iskool by tram and live on one cent gram….’, which are hurled at us,  could shake our belief in our values. At Ananda we believed in the saying “take the best from the West, but discard the rest, as our heritage and culture will withstand any test!
Brother Anandians in our valiant Defence Forces who put their lives on line to protect us and protect the unity and the territorial integrity of our county are true sons of our soil. All of them had their school education at Ananda and their initial military training at the Sri Lanka Defence Academy. As Gen Fonseka and Admiral Karranagoda mentioned in their recent TV interviews, most of their plans and strategies were “home grown” to suit the situation. Gotabhaya and his team had self belief and this was passed down the line to the last soldier, sailor and airman. Our field commanders are not only brave and committed they also carried the sprit of Ananda with them. They led from the front and were one amongst their men.

Of these brave gentlemen, as they are much younger to me, I have had the privilege of personally knowing only one of them, my name sake Brig. Prasanna. A couple of years ago, during the last (one sided) “cease fire” period I happened to speak with Prasanna and told him half in jest “Prasanna, you have done more than your share for the country, now why don’t you retire and be in Colombo with your two lovely little daughters, and Dimithi” He got very upset with me and said “Please don’t say such things ever to a fighting soldier. It is so discouraging. I will not leave the Army till the war is over.” That is the dedication they have.

Today when our National Flags fly high in every home and street corner, we pay humble tribute to our Defence Force Anandians who have brought so much honour to our school and country. Because of your dedication, bravery and commitment the banner of our Alma Mater the Marron and Gold flies high beneath the Lion Flag. Thank you brave soldiers for making us so proud to be Anandians.

By Prasanna De Silva


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