Let me tell you some facts about my younger brother.
He used to compete for different competitions locally and internationally (and that was in three countries in three years for a Math competition); an expert when it comes to computer – can hack different internet providers, can make his own programs already (yup, coding, programming and all that shiz when he’s still in grade school); good with games especially the ones where you have to follow series of rhythm (okay we all know I’m bad at explaining but games like O2Jam – very old school, I know, but that’s the first thing that came into my mind); speaks good English and even has an accent (we rarely speak English at home and I only heard him talk in English when we were in Dubai and bought two bottles of water for us); takes good photos of me (hehehe); and if there’s one thing that I can say he’s better than me with, it’s drawing. He got his skills from my dad who also draws beautifully. I remember that one day when mom told me that the framed drawing of God on their bedroom is dad’s creation. I was so shocked, I felt like it reached God in heaven.
Llander is a junior year in high school now and I rarely see him study; unlike when he was younger that my mom’s really focused on him which made him become the salutatorian of his batch. I’m actually used to the scene where every time my mom would notice how long he’s been in front of the computer, she would tell him how he has spent ALL day in front of it and if his grades are low, “he’ll see.” But nope, every time his report card was released every term, his grades are fine. Even more than fine.
I spent two weeks of summer 2015 in Los Angeles, CA with the Terrado family, and Abbey, their oldest, is Llander’s classmate. Her family moved to California when they were still in third or fourth grade and there was this one time when we talked about her life back home.
“I can’t beat Llander in school when I was back in the Philippines. He was always the first honor and I would always be #2,” she said. “I only experienced being at the top when I moved here.” And we both laughed because it’s true. Abbey’s a really brilliant girl, 4.0 GPA and all. But she can’t beat my brother. I bet she can now, now that he’s not really into studying anymore.
Anyway, too much of an introduction. (Yup, sorry.) But as reading, we can all say that my brother’s a smart guy. He’s proven so much of himself already even when he was younger and I remember my parents giving him the things he wanted in exchange for all the things he has done and made them feel proud. Because that’s what parents do, right? They always reward us whenever we do something good.
And normally, that’s what kids do. They always strive harder to get higher grades in school so that they will get something in reward of the things they’ve worked hard for.
Wahat at Karama literally means oasis of dignity. I will tell you its deeper meaning later on but for now let us admire first how remarkable UAE’s architectures forever will be and how peaceful and serene it is here.
It is in front of the beautiful Sheikh Grand Zayed Mosque and if you want to stare at it from another wonderful angle, you can do it here.
The Memorial consists of 31 massive aluminum-clad tablets leaning on each other which symbolizes the unity, solidarity, and mutual support that bind UAE’s leaders and citizens together with the service men and women who protected them. The long spine at the rear of the Memorial that symbolically supports the other panels is engraved with the Pledge of Allegiance of the UAE Armed Forces.
The tablets, which are formed from over 1,000 cast aluminum panels, are inscribed with a series of poems and quotations by different leaders of United Arab Emirates all written in Arabic.
I was lucky enough that there was a local couple that time and because there were no reasons to get shy at all, I approached the girl and asked her what all these Arabic quote means. I have to understand. I want to understand. She answered me with a smile and pointed to one tablet translating a quote for me and said, “This means that UAE will never forget those people who have died for the country.” And I swear, that moment, it touched me. As in I was so touched with the thought that this country’s love for those people is so huge they even made this whole beautiful place dedicated to them.
I wanted to ask more translations from her and I can see that she’s willing to answer and happy to converse with me but I noticed how she’s also having a hard time speaking in English and I don’t want to be a burden to her. (Why do we have to speak different languages, though? How nice would it be if we can all understand each other?) So I thanked her sincerely and sat at the nearest bench after and stare at those tablets.
Wahat Al Karama is a permanent tribute to UAE’s brave soldiers and Emiratis who selflessly sacrificed their own life while serving the nation. Which leads us back to what I was saying earlier.. Kids strive harder to get higher grades in school so that they will get a reward for the things they’ve worked hard for. But these people.. They all died to protect their country.
And to do something good without expecting anything in return.. I think that’s beautiful. They didn’t know that something as heartwarming as this place would be given to them in reward of their death for their homeland. No. They just fought until the end all because of their love for their country. Oh, the patriotism.
They deserve this. They deserve even much more beautiful than this. They deserve all the respect every person can give and they deserve to be known especially by everyone who is now stepping on their own realm.
They will continue to inspire us and we will keep their memories alive through this memorial.