commemoration day

UAE leaders and people hold martyrs’ families as top priority: FNC members

The day commemorates the sacrifices of first martyr Salem Suhail Bin Khamis and others

14:55 November 29, 2017
A view of Wahat Al Karama

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s leadership and people will always remember the sacrifices of its brave heroes, who have given their lives to defend their homeland and keep the nation’s sublime values and principles, members of the Federal National Council said.

“Our brave heroes, who have given their lives in defence of their country and the entire region will remain the source of our dignity, glory, and a beacon for generations,” said Salem Ali Al Shehi, a member of the House from Ras Al Khaimah.

Al Shehi said the UAE leaders and people are one family that salutes heroes on battlefields as well as on civilian fields — heroes who stand out possessing ideal and exemplary character, persistence and dedication beyond duty. “Families and children of the martyrs are topmost priority and receive from the UAE leaders and people full care and attention,” Al Shehi said.

“We, as one family in our unified house, are capable of protecting our nation and its gains and achievements,” Al Shehi said on the occasion of Commemoration Day, which recognises the sacrifices and dedication of Emirati martyrs, who have given their lives in the UAE and abroad in the field of civil, military and humanitarian services.

At 11.30am on Thursday, November 30, the nation will stand united in a moment of silent prayer, respect and commemoration for its fallen heroes.

Across the UAE, flags will be flown at half-mast from 8am, and will be raised again at 11.31am.

Al Shehi said the highest sacrifice to make for one’s country is to generously sacrifice one’s soul for the homeland, which is “truly exemplified by our heroes in the armed forces who are working with dedication, devotion and loyalty” to their country. “We are proud of them and their generosity, and we support them as they are the UAE’s strong shield,” Al Shehi said.

Hamad Al Rahoumi, a member of the Federal National Council from Dubai, said the people of the UAE will forever remember the brave sacrifices made by its heroes to keep the country free and proud in all civil, military and humanitarian fields.

The heroes who so loyally served their country were an example to be emulated, and would inspire future generations of young Emiratis to be devoted and loyal to their homeland, Al Rahoumi said.

Stressing that the heroes gave their lives to preserve the UAE’s achievements, Al Rahoumi said this country was built and is being preserved by the sacrifices of patriotic men and women who have given their all. To nations, peoples and even religions, martyrs play a key role in sustaining valuable truths — as important as the truths themselves.

Al Rahoumi said Emirati heroes’ sacrifices have not only made the nation proud, but also helped alleviate injustice, especially in the case of our heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in support of the Lebanese people in the Lebanon War in 1976 and 1977, the Kuwaiti people in the Kuwait Liberation War in 1991, participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia in 1992 and most recently in support of the Yemeni people’s struggle to regain their country from the tyranny of Al Houthi militia and its allies.

“All these challenges and adversaries have only brought Emiratis closer together. The people of the UAE are blessed with happy and comfortable lives, yet they remain strong and resilient in defence of their country and their region,” Al Rahoumi said.

First martyr

The first one the UAE could call its own martyr was Salem Suhail Bin Khamis, a 20-year-old policeman stationed at the Emirati island of Greater Tunb. Bin Khamis was part of a small police force that called the island both home and workplace. The island belonged to Ras Al Khaimah.

On the eve of the UAE’s foundation in 1971, Iranian troops invaded the island, as well as Lesser Tunb and the island of Abu Mousa. They ordered Bin Khamis and his fellows to lower the flag and surrender. Bin Khamis refused defiantly, raising the flag of Ras Al Khaimah. He could not see any other course of action except for standing by his beliefs — literally holding the flag high.

It would become the last thing he ever did. His act inspired an entire nation. The invading troops shot and killed Bin Khamis, who became the nation’s first martyr, on November 30.

Shortly after, the UAE became the country we know today and would not forget Bin Khamis. On the 46th anniversary of Bin Khamis’s martyrdom, the nation will celebrate him and those who perished similarly, standing firm by the ideals they held dear.

Streets have already been named after the martyrs of the UAE who died in the line of duty, and mosques, monuments and city squares followed. But the topmost reward, as the martyrs’ families will surely tell you, will be when their souls rest in paradise.

In 2015, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered that November 30 would be the country’s Commemoration Day — the day Bin Khamis died in Greater Tunb, with his flag against his chest. Commemoration Day will be a national holiday, according to the President’s decree. The martyrs “offered their lives so as to keep the UAE flag flying aloft while performing their national duties within and outside the country, in civilian, military and humanitarian fields”, the President’s order stated.

Al Rahoumi said Commemoration Day shows appreciation of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives and all that is precious for their country and showed that nothing is more precious than the nation.

“This day has become a national event to honour the martyrs of the nation and to reminisce about their heroism, sacrifice, dedication and loyalty to their country,” he said.