Plus - Appreciation

Military hero with a string of medals to garland his name

LT. Colonel Upul De Lanerolle

Time rolls by. … Life goes on. … But memories of you are fresh.
It is 11 years since you left us – and in the most tragic way imaginable.
You and I grew up together. We were inseparable. We were up to innocent, harmless mischief, always trying to find ways to make life more interesting.

I remember how we enjoyed Nelum Akka’s wedding cake long before the wedding and anyone else had a chance to taste it. The cake was kept safely in her room until it was time to wrap it.
Each day we took a coconut shell, scooped up a chunk of cake and ate it in secret. We expected a sound thrashing the moment our prank was discovered. Instead, all were amused, and we were promptly forgiven. The family continues to have a good laugh over the wedding cake story.
I could relate a hundred such stories.

We remember those fun days we had as children and enjoy a good laugh. And then we realise you are no more. But we believe you are still with us. It is only natural that it be that way.

You were a true nature lover. You could never fathom why our people had to go to other countries to enjoy nature without stopping to enjoy our own natural wealth and beauty.

I see you in all the flowers that bloom in my garden.
I see you in the rainbow.
I see you in clouds of all shapes.
You are everywhere.
Much has been written about your remarkable achievements at the warfront. I have yet to see a gathering that equals the crowd that came to your funeral.

You were loved by all. They spoke of your temperamental nature, but that would evaporate in no time.

You were commissioned to the Sri Lanka Army on March 5, 1984. From the very start of your military career, you served in operational areas in the north and the east. Operation Balavegaya, Vadamarachchi, Bhoomikampa, Akunupahara, Riviresa I and II are just a few of the military operations you were involved in.

But your most heroic performance was at the Pooneryn camp where, under heavy attack and showing courageous resistance, you demonstrated your capability in strategic manoeuvring and combat tactics. Along with your Commanding Officer, you kept the Pooneryn Camp under army control.

You were awarded a string of medals for valour – Ranawickrama, Deshaputhra, Riviresa Meheyum, Ranashura, Poornabhoomi, Vadamarachchi Meheyum, and North-East Meheyum.
When you were stationed at Point Pedro, you called Nelum Akka and asked her to send clothes and milk powder to the children there, saying they did not have even plain tea.

In the midst of the war and all the fighting, you showed compassion for the poor, the needy, and those suffering. All that is left for us are the memories and your lovely children of whom we are all very proud.

And, of course, there are all those medals that speak volumes of your bravery. Dearest Malli, may you not meet with another untimely death like the one you suffered in this life during your journey through Sansara.
We loved you then. …
We love you still. …
We shall continue to love you and treasure all those beautiful memories of you. …

Maneesha Namal Seneviratne (Sugar Akka)

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