President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told 10 retirees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that their departure from Government doesn't mean that they are forgotten and stressed that "there is always life after retirement."
"To all of you, it was an opportunity to benefit from your commitment to country; a big thank you. As you go into retirement, there's a life beyond," she said, jokingly adding, "There's going to be a life for you after retirement; likewise, I'm headed down the road you're on as there's going to be a life for me after retirement."
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Liberian leader made the statement at the honoring program for 10 long service career diplomats of the Liberian Foreign Service who were honored for their invaluable services to the country.
The program was held at the Foreign Ministry's C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium on Tuesday, August 1, 2017.
President Sirleaf used the opportunity to express thanks and appreciation to the honorees' families, associates and workmates that enabled them serve their country for such a long period and to do so under difficult circumstances.
She recounted the numerous opportunities she has had to sit with them at their places of assignment to strategize about how they could achieve targets set out by Government and during those sessions she benefitted immensely from their thoughts, work and commitment that enabled her Government achieve those targets for the nation.
"The nation owes you gratitude," she said, and stressed that Government must find a way to reach out to them in a personal way to show some gratitude for the work they've done over the years.
The Liberian leader prayed that God keeps them strong, healthy and keep their families together as they move on with their lives.
Speaking earlier, Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara called for a moment of silence for the passing, on Sunday, July 30, of Liberia's Ambassador to Egypt, Mr. Alexander H.N. Wallace, III.
She used the occasion to express heartfelt appreciation to all the honorees on behalf of Government and the people of Liberia, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs family, being fully aware of the great personal sacrifices that they have made as they diligently discharged their duties giving the best years of their lives to the service of Liberia.
"Most of you have spent several years in the foreign service, building and sustaining relations between Liberia and countries to which you were assigned during the course of your duty," Minister Kamara stressed.
She also recognized with deep thanks and appreciation, the contribution of the families of the honorees, who provided them with the emotional support behind the scenes which kept them going.
"No doubt, you would not have been successful in your diplomatic career if they had not allowed and supported you throughout your foreign service postings," Minister Kamara indicated.
She noted that most family members of the honorees had endured emotional anguish of their long absence, serving at various hardship posts where families could not stay permanently.
Foreign Minister Kamara told the honorees: "In those years of service, you have given to this nation, some of the finest minds it will ever know. Today, Liberia is gratified and feels indebted. You can be assured that your selfless gesture to this nation shall not be in vain and never be taken for granted."
She reminded the honorees that the Foreign Ministry remains their home.
In response, Senior Ambassador-At-Large, Ambassador Marcus M. Kofa, stated that he and his colleagues were grateful to President Sirleaf for the decision to provide a cushion for their soft landing from active public service to the quietude of a private life.
"This has been the realization of our greatest desire to retire with a secured future and respect," he said.
Mr. Kofa, the longest serving Liberian Foreign Service official retired, noted that their unfailing courtesy and high fidelity with which they performed the most difficult tasks as image bearers of the Government of Liberia to foreign countries have more than justified all the kind words which have been said about them.
"We can only thank you for these expressions of your belief that we have made some positive approaches towards the ideals of a good diplomat," Ambassador Kofa emphasized.
As he remembered how they served in those missions under difficult circumstances, he thanked the administration of President Sirleaf for making significant improvements in budgetary support to Liberia's Missions abroad.
Ambassador Kofa noted that for the thoughtfulness and the symbolic value of the gratuity he and his colleagues remain deeply appreciative to the Government of Liberia for the honor accorded them and the sentiments expressed about their valuable services and contributions to the national interests of Liberia.
Earlier, the Director-General of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), Mr. Dewitt von-Ballmoos, thanked the honorees for their service to country and welcomed them into the NASSCORP family.
He advised that they begin to process their pension benefits through the Civil Service Agency who will inform them officially. "It's there; we are waiting for the process to be completed," he said.
Those retired and honored included Mr. Johnny A. McClain, former Ambassador to Côte d'Ivoire; Mr. Francis Karpeh, former Ambassador to Belgium; Mr. Andrew W. Kronyanh, former Ambassador-designate to Italy; Mr. Marcus M. Kofa, Senior Ambassador-At-Large; and Dr. Edward G.H. Clinton, former Ambassador-At-Large.
Others are Mr. Ben Sie-Toe Collins, former Minister Counselor, Liberia's Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa; Mr. Morris Momo Karneh, former Minister Counselor, Liberia's Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire; Mr. Christopher Nippy, former First Secretary, Liberia's Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.; Ms. Catherine Nmah, former Second Secretary, Liberia's Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.; and Mr. Moses A. Deshield, Third Secretary, Liberia's Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone.