“We miss him as a leader, a comrade, a devoted father, a compassionate elder brother, an outstanding scholar, an ardent believer, a refined mentor and an extraordinary President” was how President John Dramani Mahama expressed his sorrow during the First Anniversary Wreath Laying Ceremony for the late President John Evans Atta Mills at the Asomdwee Park in Accra on Wednesday.
President Mahama also stated that, “One of the most endearing images I have of Professor Mills was his vision of seeing Ghana as a beacon, lighting the path for the whole of Africa. And yet, paradoxically, Professor Mills was himself a beacon for Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world.”
“His light shines still, his legacy lives on, inspiring us, guiding us, prompting us to join hands in building this prized nation that he so selflessly dedicated himself to. We as a people must continue to build from where he left off”, he added.
At dawn the clouds in Accra and beyond suddenly changed on Wednesday to reflect the same situation that the country was thrown into following the sudden demise of President Mills on Tuesday July 24, 2012. It did not take long when it started drizzling in most parts of Accra.
The drizzling subsided to be followed by a heavy downpour around 10:30 am. But just around noon, the clouds suddenly disappeared to pave way for the impressive but sorrowful ceremony which was very well attended.
The Defence Regiment provided the siren at 2:15 pm to signal the exact time that President Mills died last year at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra. One of the favourite hymns by President Mills, “Begone unbelief, my saviour is near” was sang before wreaths were laid by President Mahama, Mrs (Dr) Ernestina Naadu Mills, the Family of President Mills, The Speaker of Parliament, The Chief Justice, The Chief of Defence Staff and the Osu Mantse. The personal pastor of President Mills with his voice shaking with grief provided a very powerful closing prayer.
But before the grieving attendees left the Asomdwee Park, President Mahama told the gathering that he received the tragic news of the passing of President Mills just around the same time last year and can recollect vividly the emotional breakdown he suffered upon hearing the news.
He said the nation, Africa and the world were thrown into a state of mourning and grief which was so intense that it shook the very foundation of Ghana and cast a cloud of grief over the country which set the hearts of every Ghanaian bleeding with shock and sorrow.
“The nation felt a deep sense of remorse because his passing caused us to re-evaluate the harshness, scorn, cynicism and, yes, cowardice with which we often treated his attempts to recapture the fellow-feeling and ethical values that had kept us united for generations” he added.
“We were left humbled and speechless by a sudden insight of his quiet dignity and his unassuming willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country. On the occasion of the first anniversary of his death, I stand before you, fellow Ghanaians, to rededicate myself to many of the things that the late Prof stood for.”
President Mahama concluded his speech by saying, “President Professor John Evans Atta Mills – Asomdweehen, Man of Peace, Rest in Peace.President Professor John Evans Atta Mills – You are Forever in our Hearts.”