Sri Lanka Army

Defender of the Nation

67th National Independence Day Commemorated; Simple Yet Dignified with Grandeur

The 67th National Independence Day ceremony of the motherland under the theme ‘Piripun Mawubimak - Abhiman Hetadinak’ (A Splendid Country - A Glorious Tomorrow) at Battaramulla Parliament Grounds, headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, mirrored the determined commitment of all Sri Lankans to march forward in her quest for prosperity and long-lasting stability.

The arrival of President Maithripala Sirisena in his charming attire, together with Mrs Sirisena, signalled the onset of the day’s programme. Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Former President Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Speaker, Chief Justice, Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs, Governor for Western Province, Chief Minister for Western Province, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Secretaries of Ministries, Chief of Defence Staff, Army, Navy and Air Force Commanders, Inspector General of the Police, Diplomats and a host of other distinguished invitees were present there to receive the President Sirisena.

This year’s anniversary celebration leaves a landmark in the country’s post-independence phase as it had all the hallmarks of dignity with simplicity, brevity and colourfulness.

Today’s ceremony commenced with the arrival of the President. President Sirisena and Mrs Sirisena were warmly received by the Prime Minister, Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs. His arrival at the venue, accompanied by Military Police outriders and mounted Policemen in a colourful pageant, was heralded 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 ushered the President to the main flag post where he hoisted the National Flag, amidst rhythmic beating of Magul Bera (auspicious drums) and blowing of conch shells as 100 school girls from girls’ schools in the province, sang the national anthem, filling all patriotic hearts with pride of being an independent nation, rich with age-old, unmatched cultural ethos.

Afterwards, the President from the special dais received the blessings of the recital of ‘Jayamangala Gatha’ and ‘Devo Vassatu Kalena’ stanzas, presented by a bevy of 100 girls.

It was followed by observance of a two-minute silence in memory of all the patriots and War Heroes who had laid their lives for the noble cause of defending the territorial integrity of the Nation.

The next phase of the day’s agenda was the colourful tri-service Guard of Honour, accorded to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, followed by the customary 21-Gun Salute in his honour.

It was time for the much-awaited President’s address to the nation. (See President's Message in News Highlights)
Soon after his address, the smart parade, comprised of tri-service Officers and Other ranks, Police and the Civil Defence Force personnel in their respective ceremonials, commanded by Major General Sumedha Perera of the Sri Lanka Army, was reported by the Parade Commander to the Chief Guest who afterwards took the Salute in accordance with military traditions.

A total of about 5572 troops, including Police and Civil Defence Force personnel attired in their ceremonial dresses afterwards began the march-past, presenting their salute to the President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In addition, school children and members of the National Cadet Corps also coloured the parade. In addition members of the National Cadet Corps and National Youth Corps added their contribution to the parade.

Rhythmic cultural troupes, made up of well-known artistes, school students in Colombo District and others, added special colourfulness to the parade as the day’s programme drew to a close. These cultural dances were from different provinces in the country.

Religious dignitaries of all denominations, Governors, Diplomats, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Chief Ministers, Project Ministers, Parliamentarians, State Secretaries, State Officials and a massive crowd of spectators, witnessed the National Independence Day proceedings at Battaramulla.

To coincide with the main event, Hon Joseph Michael Perera, Minister of Home Affairs and Fisheries Affairs, prior to the main ceremony, placed floral wreaths and paid tribute to Rt Hon. D.S Senanayake statue at the Independence Square who has been recognized as the ‘Father of the Nation’.  

The series of National Independence Day ceremonies commenced on Monday (2) with an overnight Pirith chanting ceremony held at the Independence Square, Colombo 7, followed by Heel Dana at Sri Lanka Maha Pirivena at Maradana the following morning.

On Independence Day (4) Buddhist religious observances, Hindu religious observances, Islamic prayers, Catholic and Christian services took place respectively at Maradana Sri Lanka Maha Pirivena, Sir Ponnambala Vaneshwaran Kovil, Maradana Jumma Mosque, Borella All Saints Church and Wellawatta South Indian Congregation.

At 12.00 noon Sri Lanka Navy saluted the nation with 25 rounds of gun salute near the Light House at Chaitya road.

Here is the full text of the President’s Speech;

Blessings of the Noble Triple Gem

Ven. Members of the Maha Sangha, Reverend Clergy of Hindu, Islam, Catholic and other faiths, Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Speaker, Secretary to the President and all State Officers, The Heads of the Security Forces, Distinguished Guests, My Dear Friends,

This is the occasion when we celebrate the 67th Independence Day with due honour and dignity.

It is most fortunate that I am able to address you at this historically important city of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, today, in the precincts the House of Parliament that confirms the sovereignty of the people.

As we celebrate the freedom obtained 67 years ago, it is our duty and responsibility to remember with honour the heroes who fought to obtain this freedom. The year 1815 when our great Motherland lost her freedom is recalled as a year of great national tragedy. The uprisings of 1815 and 1848 against the forces of colonialism caused great bloodshed, when our soil was dampened by the blood of the heroic patriots and those who loved our nation and country.

As much as we were unable to achieve victory in the uprisings of 1815 and 1848, from then on till 1948 we did not obtain freedom. During the period of 1848 to 1948 our national heroes who continued an unending struggle for freedom and liberation in keeping with their duty and responsibility of achieving the freedom for our land and people. That struggle was mostly carried out peacefully, and was often one of non-violence, which brought our people together against the colonial administration of the time through protests, demonstrations, and strikes. The results of these struggles for freedom were the activating of the Donoughmore and Soulbury Commissions, that sought to respond to these demands.

We remember well those who gave leadership to these struggles, who, among many other heroes, include Mr. DS Senanayake, Mr. FR Senanayake, Sir DB Jayatillake, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Mr. TB Jayah, Mr. SWRD Bandaranaike, Dr. NM Perera, Mr. Philip Gunewardena and Mr. Leslie Goonewardena. It is important to remember the contribution of the Anagarika Dharmapala. Similarly, we recall the great literary names of the time such as Munidasa Cumaranatunga, Piyadasa Sirisena, and other exceptional campaigners for freedom through writing, who used their pens to effectively kindle the spirit of freedom in the hearts and minds of people.

Looking back at the record of history, especially the 67 years that have passed since Independence, we recall that after receiving Independence in 1948, the people’s government of 1956 led by Prime Minister SWRD Bndaranaike strengthened our freedom by removing the British air force and naval bases at Katunayake and Trincomalee. Also, in May 1972, Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, brought the Republican Constitution, which made this country one of greater independence and democracy.

If we look at the past and today, we know of the LTTE terrorism that took place for 30 years from the latter part of the 1970’s, which through the brutality of terrorism brought our entire nation and our efforts at development, to a most tragic situation. It is not possible to make an assessment of the immense losses incurred during that period. That brutal war slowed down the forward march of the nation, prevented the progress of the Motherland, and created great obstacles for us to rise in the world as an awakened nation.

In 2009, we were able to end this war of 30 years. The coming to office of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, and though the contributions of military heroes such as Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who gave leadership to thousands of heroic troops who made great sacrifices of life and limb, and suffered great tragedies in battle,, we were able, in May 2009, to free our land from LTTE terror and bring our country to peace.

It is our special duty on this 67th commemoration of Independence, to remember with the highest respect and pay due honor to all members of our security forces who sacrificed their lives in this war on behalf our great Motherland.

Although by 2009, after the defeat of LTTE terrorism, and bringing peace to our land, although we had the opportunity to take the physical resources of the land forward towards development, we were unable to do so; and to bring together the minds of the people of the North and South.

To end the war against terror, our heroic troops were able with their guns to silence the guns of terrorism. However, the biggest challenge we face today, is that of bringing together the minds of the people of the North and South, and through a process of reconciliation bring about co-existence and national understanding, and thus take our great Motherland forward as a land rich in human affection and understanding.

In so moving forward, there are many responsibilities before us. We need to ask ourselves whether we can truly and honestly be satisfied with what we have achieved, as we celebrate this 67th anniversary of Independence. As we look back at these 67 years of freedom, the solution to our needs does not lie in the mutual pointing of fingers at each other. It is my belief that all political parties, all political leaders who have governed this country in the past 67 years, should look back at themselves and truly study and understand one’s duties and responsibilities, and look towards the future in the discharge of such responsibilities.

I think it is the great responsibility and duty before us today is to ask where we have gone wrong, and how we could correct those errors. As much as we look at the path we have trod in the 67 years of freedom, and especially since 2009, can we be satisfied at what has been achieved after the restoration of peace. In looking at this we must be aware of the income gap that prevails and poverty in the country. I believe this is both a major problem and challenge that we face today and one that needs necessary and compulsory change.

Together with the mandate given to us by the people on January 8th, we made important promises and pledges to the people that working as a new government, we would bring about new transformations in politics, the economy, society and culture. We remain bound by these pledges. In the nearly three weeks that have passed, we have initiated many moves in this regard, and a beginning has been made. The level of poverty in our country stands at 6.7 %. We should pay special attention to this with a commitment to bring it to a minimum. This is the task of our new government, elected by our people.

Accordingly, our new government will work towards reducing the income gap among people, eliminating poverty and strengthening the national economy. In speaking of our national economy, as an agricultural country, we should raise national agricultural standards by providing scientific knowledge from the advances in the new technological world, and through proper guidance and study bring new life to our national agriculture. We must strengthen our national economy. It is the commitment of the government to ensure development of the various sectors of our economy, through new technology and industrialization; and joining hands with the industrial world move forward as a truly awakened country.

We have a strong commitment to strengthen the public service, make it non-partisan, and through the expected constitutional changes, give more strength to parliament, remove the unlimited powers of the executive presidency, and thus ensure the strengthening of democracy for the people. We shall definitely implement the promises made to the people.

In considering the past, we make a clear commitment towards following a foreign policy of the middle path, in friendship with all nations, and move towards the resolution of our national issues through the strengthening of our international relations, and through the benefits of such friendship that will bring technological progress, to take our Motherland towards greater progress.

We see the necessity to bring new technology to our new generations, implant the advances of technology in their minds, and join hands with the modern world. It is, therefore, necessary to fully understand the thinking and expectations of the new generations and as a government to take the necessary steps to help them realize these expectations.

We will clearly carry out our task of moving forward as an awakened nation, by obtaining the cooperation of all through our foreign policy of the middle path, and as a country that acts in keeping with the United Nations Charter, and its conventions.

Therefore, while we look back at 67 years on this 67th commemoration of Independence, as a new government, we will also look and move forward with our beloved people, with the firm dedication to build our great Motherland for the future.

Thank you.

May you all be Blessed by the Noble Triple Gem.