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Second National Victory Day Anniversary Celebrations Honour Invaluable Ranaviru Sacrifices

His Excellency, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the second National Victory Day anniversary celebrations at Galle Face Green on Friday (27) paid a glowing tribute to War Heroes of all Tri-services, Police and Civil Defence Forces on behalf of the Nation.

The unflagging courage and dignity of War Heroes, who selflessly contributed to the success story and liberated the country from clutches of terrorism that plagued our society for more than thirty years was twice venerated as all the attendees rose to feet when all disable and wheelchair borne War Heroes went past.    

The National Victory Day parade that recollects the unbelievable win over brutal terrorism is held every year to pay tribute to all War Heroes of Tri Services, Police and the Civil Defence Force.

This year’s parade assumed special significance and prominence since some 9000 War Heroes who decisively fought in the North, Wanni and Eastern Humanitarian Operations with their respective commanding officers and mechanized columns took part in the celebration, showcasing their unflinching determination, dedication and commitment for defence of their motherland at the risk of their own lives.

Sri Lanka, now facing the daunting task of reconciling and re-building after promoting confidence and understanding among all ethnicities, added a new global dimension to the myth that terrorism could not be wiped out militarily.

Friday’s National Victory Day parade with a galaxy of religious leaders, distinguished statesmen, tri-service Commanders, Inspector General of Police, administrators, diplomats and other dignitaries, including His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Chief Guest consisted of Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Civil Defence Force personnel and their supportive ordnance, used widely during Humanitarian Operations in the fight against terrorism. Naval fleet at sea as well as Air Force fighting craft during the ceremony displayed their talents, reminiscing all the attendees of their share of contribution to the fight against terrorism, two years ago.

The grandeur of the March Past, presented by War Heroes of Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Civil Defence Force as well as the display of tri-service mechanized columns and Air Force fighting craft in the skies, added magnificence and colour to the occasion.

The compartmentalization of the entire parade into the separate Eastern theatre, Northern theatre, Wanni Central, Western and Eastern theatres offered the spectators a broader view of the heroic troops, engaged in offensives.

The stage was set for the spectacular and mammoth show of the day as Inspector General of Police, Commander of the Air Force, Commander of the Navy, Commander of the Army, Chief of Defence Staff, Secretary Defence, Secretary to President, Speaker and Prime Minister arrived at the venue in succession. They all were welcomed warmly by designated officers of the Police, Air Force, Navy and Army before the Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa was received by the Chief of Defence Staff, Tri-Service Chiefs and the IGP. All of them also joined greeting Speaker and the Prime Minister as well as per the day’s agenda.  

Seconds after that, arrival of His Excellency, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, was heralded as members of the Sri Lanka Army cultural troupe blew traditional trumpets. Prime Minister, President’s Secretary, Secretary Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Army, Navy, Air Force commanders and the IGP warmly received the Chief Guest and the First Lady Mrs Shiranthi Rajapaksa. Signalling the onset, the Chief Guest was conducted to hoist the National Flag as the first item on the agenda. Blowing of traditional conch shells amidst beating of auspicious drums (Magul Bera) marked the official inauguration of the day’s event as President Rajapaksa hoisted the National Flag. Lined up Army woman soldiers simultaneously recited the National Anthem and paid the Nation’s tribute, giving pride of place to the motherland.

The next moment was solemn and dignified as the mammoth gathering rose to feet paying their respect to the memory of fallen War Heroes by way of a two-minute silence. The gesture took all present down on the memory lane and recalled numerous sacrifices of those War Heroes who dedicated their today for our tomorrow.

The ceremony turned more dignified as proceedings continued. The military ceremony got off the ground as the Presidential Salute with the 21 Gun Salute resonated with the boom, awarded to the President while all invitees remained standing.

Deviating from the traditional routine, President Rajapaksa atop a special open jeep along with Chief of Defence Staff, Army, Navy and Air Force Commanders and the overall parade Commander Major General Nandana Udawatta afterwards went to inspect the parade troops, lined up at Galle Face Green after the overall parade Commander reported to the President.   

The triumphant mood of the Nation’s hard-fought victory over LTTE terrorism reached its zenith as President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Chief Guest on the occasion commenced to address the Nation.

President Rajapaksa in his brief talk called upon the public to bear in mind the fact that it was the dedication and sacrifice of the War Heroes that brought about peace to the country which is very freely enjoyed by everyone today.

‘Inciting racial hatred will not serve any purpose and all political parties should remember this. People will have to be liberated to enjoy the peace dividend and human rights cannot be guaranteed only by including it in the constitution’.
 
Here is the text of the President's address:

After uniting the country with the defeat of the most ruthless terrorism in the world, today we were able to hoist our national flag with dignity and honour.

Today we celebrate the victory of ensuring the right of every citizen of the country to live in harmony. It is the victory of freeing thousands of civilians in the north, who were held as hostages.

Friends,

By adding Human Rights to the Constitution it will not guarantee those rights to the people of this country. If someone robs the right to life, it is only by ensuring the right to life can we preserve human rights.

Therefore, today we also celebrate the victory of ensuring the Right to Life of thousands of citizens.

Friends,

We can look back with pride and much satisfaction at the last two years since we achieved freedom from terrorism.

You are aware that we have been able to draw a new map of Sri Lanka through the development revolution taking place here today. The north and east won by war heroes are fast becoming prosperous, in place of the hardships that prevailed.

As we removed the 'border village' from the Sri Lankan map, we are now taking measures to delete 'displaced and destitute" from our vocabulary. Many thousand acres of land sowed with landmines are now been cultivated. Thousands of displaced civilians were resettled with all the facilities, from shelter, bedding to mosquito coils. Likewise, reconstruction of North and East is a major development task in our history.

With rays of freedom rising in the north and east, the rays of development are also dawning on people in those areas.

People in those areas should bear in mind that what we rebuild rapidly are the public properties destroyed by terrorists.

When we rebuild the north and east destroyed by the terrorists, the world knows what the terrorists who are abroad did during past two years. Since the country was united with the death of the last LTTE leader in Vellamulliwaikkal on May 19, these elements organized against the motherland again. They did not cease to collect funds for terrorism and many other illegal activities.

During the war they had heaps of money for purchasing weapons and ships. With that huge amount of money the terrorists continue to spread false rumors, conspire and spread false propaganda against Sri Lanka. Even though terrorism was eradicated from Sri Lanka, terrorists living abroad continue to work to destroy our country. Those abroad, misusing the democratic freedom and their right to vote in the countries of their domicile, are influencing those countries against us in campaigns against us.

Friends,

Terrorism in a country begins with shooting down the truth. Even after war the Tamil Tigers continue to target the truth. As a result of this, conspiracies were launched to write false reports against our country and our war heroes.

Friends,

We do not hesitate to ensure the democratic and human rights of the citizens living in the north and east. But we will not heed to the demands of separatists or terrorists. When people in this country do not accept their demands, they look for ways to make us bow down using foreign influence. But I must emphasize that no one can do anything in this country without the consent of our people. It is only we who can solve our own problems, and no one else.

Friends,

I will recall what I said in the past that our troops went to the battlefront carrying a gun in one hand, the Human Rights Charter in the other, food for the innocent displaced on their shoulders, and love of their children in their hearts. They did not target any communities or religions, and did not march ahead with hatred towards anyone.

After the death of the terrorist leader, we took care of his mother and father. We still look after the families of leaders who surrendered. We were able to protect our country over the centuries from invaders because we did not hate any race, religion or person.

It is based on the great Buddhist traditions that do not preach hatred towards any race or person, and also on the core values of other religions, that we fought against the most ruthless, most cruel terrorist organization in the world.

We are the only country that fought the terrorists fighting against us while feeding them and providing them with medicines. Therefore, when we see how some countries carry out operations against enemies today, we are proud of the humanitarian nature of our operation against the enemy.

We were with you in the battlefield. It is same today. We will not betray you before the world.

Heroes of War,

We did not confine you to barracks after the end of the humanitarian operation. We gave you an important role to play in the task of rebuilding our motherland.

From the Foreign Service to the beautifying of Colombo city, war heroes contribute immensely for the betterment of this country. You who shed your blood for this country, are today toiling for the development process of the country. Your discipline and the commitment have placed a high demand for your services in many sectors.

There is a truth we have to tell the world. We did not build Armed Services to invade countries. What we have is an Armed Force committed to rebuild the country with utmost commitment to the people.

Friends,

Whenever we step with freedom on this motherland, we must remember with honour that there are thousands of Great Heroes of War at rest in this soil. I state with pride, that even at this very moment, our war heroes are ready to make the supreme sacrifice for the protection of this country.

Friends,

To make the sacrifice made by war heroes more meaningful, we have to build a great future for people to live in harmony. We have shown to the world that we are capable of doing so.

The best answer to those who ask what benefits the people received with the end of the war, is to respond by showing the development both in the North and South today. The economic growth rate in the country in 2007 was 6.8%. But after the end of the war, we have achieved an economic growth rate of 8%. The current growth rate in north is 14.2%. The unemployment rate has come down from 6% to 4.9%. We were able to stabilize the value of the dollar.

Friends,

The best way to meet our future challenges is to strengthen national unity. Today we do not hear a single incident of communal disharmony in this country. Two years ago, we celebrated the victory over terrorism without hurting the feelings of any community.

Today, Sinhalese take part in Vel processions; Tamil people participate with enthusiasm when Sinhalese conduct Sambuddhatva Jayanthi celebrations. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims alike went sightseeing in the night to view Vesak decorations.

It is our responsibility to preserve this bond between communities. I emphasize to all political parties and groups that it will do no good to reopen the healing wounds, to continue to dig up the past, and creating disharmony and hatred among people will be of no benefit. The only way to secure this the freedom of our land and this victory is to protect this great bond between communities.

Heroes of war,

Those committed to bring peace to the country are pleased to see that people who were once hiding in the jungles with their kids are freely moving about today without any fear at all. When you see the land burdened with landmines is now being cultivated and the sea routes used by suicide vessels of the Sea Tigers now being used by our fishermen to earn their livelihood, you will realize that your sacrifices have not been in vain. Your hearts will be filled with happiness to see children who inherited the suicidal cyanide capsule, now learning in schools. I pay tribute to everyone who was committed to make our motherland free, content and prosperous.

Oba Samata Suba Anagathayak.

(A prosperous future to you all.)
 
President afterwards took his position on the special dais along with the Chief of Defence Staff, Army, Navy and Air Force Commanders and IGP as the military parade was set to march past by.

The grandeur of the March Past, presented by Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Civil Defence Force War Heroes as well as the display of mechanized columns, support weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles, sophisticated missiles of the tri-services and the Police, added more prominence and magnificent grandeur to the day’s event. Of them, Army de-miners, signalers, veterinary unit with sniffing dogs, artillery, mechanized infantry, engineer equipment and other armed units of the Navy and Air Force who stood a tower of strength to fighting troops, drew the attention of the gathering as it provided a new spectacle that caused interest and curiosity. The mechanized column parade also robbed the attention as the day’s programme was drawing to a close.

Presentation of the salute by wheel-chair borne War Heroes, other physically and visually handicapped War Heroes, needless to mention, touched heart and soul of all those present on the occasion. As they drive past, those War Heroes received an overwhelming standing ovation from the main dais and the invitees.

Navy and Air Force displays in the seas and air respectively offered the most thrilling experience as rhythmic beats rent the air with soothing melodies. Brigadier Sudath Perera served as the second in command of the parade.

Religious dignitaries, Senior Ministers, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Chief Ministers, Members of Parliament, Diplomats, Ex-Defence and Police Chiefs, Secretaries, Provincial Ministers and Councilors, Chiefs of Staff in Army, Navy and Air Force, Senior DIGs, Director, Civil Defence Force, Senior Army, Navy and Air Force Officers, Media personnel and a massive gathering of invitees graced the occasion.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa in connection with the National Victory Day issued a separate message earlier. Here is the full text;

“It is with very much pleasure that I send this message of greetings on Ranaviru Day, set apart to commemorate the War Heroes who made the supreme sacrifice for the unity of our motherland.

The cherished dream of peace that we as a nation yearned for decades has now come true. The honour for this should solely be with our armed forces.

Let us bow our heads in homage to those thousands who sacrificed life and limb for the freedom we enjoy today.

It is our greatest responsibility to protect our hard-won freedom. Ensuring that we leave no room for terrorism or separatism to raise their ugly heads again in this country is the greatest tribute we can pay to our heroes of war. The entire nation should come forward and assist the families of those brave soldiers who died or were maimed in this great struggle for peace and unity. This is our duty and responsibility. I trust both the government and citizens will look after the welfare of Ranaviru families, to make them feel secure with the assurance that society at large has not forgotten them. I join the entire nation to salute all our War Heroes.”