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Meteoric rise of Ananda's patriotic sons

In an interview with the Daily News, Bertie Perera, who served as a teacher at Ananda College from 1961 to 1973 reminisced about the golden days that propelled many sons of Ananda to eventually join the Forces.

"It was a memorable era. I still remember my days at Ananda vividly. It was easy to work with the children because they were all well disciplined. We all know the historical background in which Ananda came to be. This too paid a big part in moulding these budding young patriots," Perera said.

"We also had a very sound cadetting system in our School, which too contributed to Ananda producing so many gallant military leaders. Ananda over the years cultivated a sense of national pride in its students, due to its historical roots and the unique Anandian ethics"

He noted that this trend prevailed over the years and was inculcated deeply in the minds of those who came under the Ananda flag.

"The Student - Teacher relationship in the School was always excellent, we called them son and they called us Sir\Madam. Also elder students called their younger colleagues, Malli (younger brother) and younger ones called their elders, Aiyya (elder brother). This tradition prevails to this day.

"Thus Anandians always worked as a team. There was always a sense of camaraderie and a sense of belonging. When it comes to having such a large number of Anandians in the military, apart from the above factors I think also our practice of inviting old Anandian military officers for various functions in the School too played a big part".

"The young ones looked up to these officers, they were fascinated by their immaculate uniforms and the power they wielded. Thus I think that this too contributed to the growing number of Anandians joining the military".

"I vividly recall the present Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa during his School days. He was in the hostel with his brother Basil. One striking feature of Gotabhaya was his lovely smile. I still remember that he used to have that smile all the time. I also have commented on that to him on several occasions."

"Also he was a very pleasant and disciplined student. He did well in studies and sports and was a favourite with the teachers. He was associated with exemplary behaviour during his student days". I recall his brother Basil Rajapaksa-the present Parliamentarian.

He was definitely a live wire. He was very active and vibrant and took the lead in many extra curricular activities".

Referring to the present Army Commander, Fernando said: "I still can vividly recall, the present Army Commander during his School days. He was a special student. He showed good leadership qualities at an early age."

"After joining the Cadetting Platoon, within the short span of three years he rose to the position of Sergeant. He was also a very committed and a serious student. Others used to rally around him and at all times he got the relevant work done using his leadership skills to good effect".

"I also remember the present Navy Commander, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda. He and his two brothers were at the hostel that time in which I was the Warden. They were very pleasant boys. Also Wasantha excelled in sports".

"One common factor among the brothers was that they were highly disciplined and very gentlemanly. Their father used to visit them every weekend, and in all such occasions he came to meet me as well, to inquire how his boys were doing".

"Also I recall the present CDF Chief, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera. He was an outstanding athlete during his School days. He captained the Football team and the Athletics team. Also he was in the Cadetting platoon".

"In addition he excelled in his studies; also he displayed good Sinhala poetry skills at an early age. Recently I met him at a function, he was in the stage and I was in the audience. After seeing me he got down and came and greeted me".

"Recently I visited Colombo High Courts with a friend of mine who also was a former teacher at another leading School in Colombo. To my surprise one of the Judges was an old Anandian who had come under my wing during his School days.

"After seeing me he immediately came down from his seating position to greet me. My friend was very surprised and he commented our students don't do that".

" I have gone through many similar experiences; This is the kind of exemplary behaviour the Anandians are associated with. They always have such respect for teachers, no matter what positions they hold".

"I am glad that I have played a part in moulding these young men to become beacons of strength to the nation. The above mentioned and many others produced by Ananda have played their part over the years in defending the Nation. I hope that Ananda in future too would provide such impetus to the nation, not only in the field of defence, but in all other relevant areas as well".

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