Indonesia Honors Sacrifices of Its Heroes

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono leading the Heroes' Day ceremony at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono leading the Heroes’ Day ceremony at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)

The commemoration of National Heroes’ Day, which falls on Nov. 10 every year, should serve as an important reminder that heroes are still needed in many different fields and sectors to serve Indonesia, a senior politician said.

“God willing, this nation will be able to overcome every challenge if its people are equipped with the spirit of heroism. The National Heroes’ Day is a historical momentum in the nation’s journey,” Akbar Tandjung, chief of the Golkar party’s advisory board, said on Sunday.

The modern world calls for a definition of heroes that exceeds the physical being, he said, and every part of the nation should be willing to sacrifice themselves in order to fight for values of humanity.

In light of the National Heroes Day commemoration, Akbar also called on the government to pay closer attention to the nation’s war veterans.

“We should respect our heroes. A great nation is a nation that respects its heroes, so I agree that war veterans should be given special attention,” he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday officially bestowed the title “national hero” on three persons, namely the late Lambertus Nicodemus Palar, Lt. Gen. Tahi Bonar Simatupang and K.R.T. Radjiman Wediodiningrat.

Lambertus represented Indonesia at the United Nations, while T.B. Simatupang was a soldier in the Indonesian National Revolution, who subsequently became the chief of the armed forces.

The government has so far bestowed the title of national hero on 156 persons, 32 of whom are from the armed forces and the police .

Beneficiaries of individuals who have been named heroes are entitled to a Rp 1.5 million ($132) monthly payment as well as Rp 3 million worth of health care annually.

Separately on Sunday, Democratic Party secretary general Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono said the essence of commemorating National Heroes’ Day should be in the sense of solidarity shared with the nation’s heroes.

“What’s most important in commemorating National Heroes’ Day is to improve solidarity and togetherness through nationalism, patriotism and a fighting spirit,” he said.

In view of this, Edhie called on each citizen to contribute to improving and sharing the sense of nationalism and patriotism in their different roles.

“Start from small things, build the spirit of working together in our own environment so as to maintain our solidarity,” he said.

The developments in this era of globalization and modernization have the potential to erode the fighting spirit and values strongly held in the fight for independence, which makes it all the more important for all elements in the nation to maintain their fighting spirit, he added.

“Today, our fight and our goal is to build and ensure the prosperity of our people through our own deeds. However little our contribution, that shows our respect towards our nation’s heroes.”

Meanwhile, Bambang Sulistomo, son of National Hero Sutomo, who led Indonesia’s fight for independence on Nov. 10, 1945 against the Dutch colonists in Surabaya, said Indonesia today needed a leader with the courage to uphold justice in every sector.

“A just leader is hard to come by today, be it in the fields of education, politics, law, security, public welfare or other sectors,” he said in a discussion on nationality and democracy in Surabaya on Saturday, adding that he remained optimistic that such a figure would surface sooner or later.

“Whoever will be the future leader, everything depends on the people. I am not mentioning any names of who I think will be fit, but I am certain there is somebody capable of developing this country and making it better,” he said.

National Heroes’ Day commemorates a battle in Surabaya between independence fighters and occupying Dutch and British soldiers in 1945.