05th February 2018 14:09:17 Hours
Mother Sri Lanka entered a new era of peace and prosperity on Saturday (4), commemorating her 70th National Independence Day under the theme, ‘One Nation’ in a simple, yet dignified ceremony at the Galle Face Green coloured around 160 Officers and 3638 Other Ranks of the Army under the leadership of Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army.
The apex of the this year’s main ceremony, headed by HE the President Maithripala Sirisena, mirrored the determined commitment of all Sri Lankans, Members of the Tri-services, Police and the Civil Security Department for revitalization of Sri Lanka’s national growth and restoration of the past glory and grandeur.
Glittering National Flags and military parades saluted President and the Nation during 70th Independence Day ceremonies at Colombo, giving pride of place to the military parade of the Tri-Services, Police Civil Security Department and the National Cadets Corps (NCC).
The annual national spectacle, held in the capital of Sri Lanka was dignified by the presence of HE the President Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, accompanied by the Former President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga, Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, Minister of Home Affairs, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Ministers, Governor for Western Province, Chief Minister for Western Province, President’s Secretary, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Defence, Secretaries of Ministries, Chief of Defence Staff, Army, Navy and Air Force Commanders, Inspector General of the Police, Director General, Civil Security Department, Diplomats and a host of other distinguished invitees, including members of the clergy of all major denominations.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Princess Sophie, Countess of Wessex, together with two distinguished envoys from People's Republic of China and Japan graced as special invitees.
Today’s ceremony commenced with the arrival of HE, the President to be received warmly by Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs. His arrival at the venue, accompanied by mounted Policemen and Tri-service Military Police outriders in a colourful pageant, was symbolized by blowing of trumpets.
Seconds after that, the Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Air Force and the Inspector General of Police conducted HE, the President to the main flag post where he was invited to hoist the National Flag, amidst rhythmic beating of Magul Bera (auspicious drums) and blowing of conch shells as 110 students from ten schools in the province, recited the national anthem, filling all patriotic hearts with pride and grandeur.
Afterwards, HE the President from the special dais received the blessings of the recital of Jayamangala Gathas and Devo Vassatu Kalena stanzas, presented by a bevy of 25 girls, belonging to three girls’ schools in the Colombo area. It was followed by observance of a two-minute silence in memory of all the patriot Sri Lankans who laid their lives for the noble cause of defending the Nation.
The next phase of the day’s agenda was the colourful and magnificent tri-service Guard of Honour comprised with 8 Officers and 96 Other Rankers commanded by Major Duminda Rasika Kumara of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC), accorded to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, followed by the customary 21-Gun Salute.
Next, was the time for the much-awaited President’s address to the Nation, in which he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to everyone who sacrificed in achieving the freedom we enjoy today.
Soon after his address, the smart parade comprised of tri-service Officers and Other Ranks, Police and Civil Security Department personnel, including National Cadet Corps (NCC), dressed in their respective ceremonials was reported by the Parade Commander to the Chief Guest who took the Salute in accordance with military traditions.
This year’s Army parade comprised 124 Officers and 3389 Other Rankers in the Foot Column while the Mechanized Column is comprised of 36 Officers and 249 Other Rankers.
Thousands of troops, dressed in their ceremonial attire afterwards began their march-past, according their salute to His Excellency, the President, the Chief Guest on the occasion.
Rhythmic cultural troupes, made up of well-known artistes, school students and others from provincial levels added variety and magnificence to the parade as the day’s programme drew to a close.
Religious dignitaries of all denominations and a massive crowd of spectators witnessed the National Independence Day proceedings in Colombo.
Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commander, Security Forces - Jaffna and Colonel Commandant of the Sri Lanka Engineers commanded the Independence Day parade while Brigadier Nishantha Wadugodapitiya of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry is the parade Second In Command and Warrant Officer 1, W.M.S.P Wijesinghe of the Sri Lanka Corps of Military Police is the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Parade.
Sharp at 12 noon today (4), the Navy were to honour the Nation with another round of 25-Gun Salute at Light House, Chaithya Road, Colombo.