26th October 2022 13:17:48 Hours
The saga of unmatched sacrifice, valour, commitment and determination that finds articulation through South Asia's biggest War Heroes' Monument at Panagoda Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) Regimental HQ compound which is dedicated to the memory of 3,744 SLLI Officers and Other Ranks turned solemn again this afternoon (25) and the edifice was swarmed with a huge gathering of grateful parents, spouses and children of SLLI War Heroes, SLLI veterans, Senior Officers, Other Ranks and invitees.
This year's annual commemoration that salutes the supreme price paid by the brave sons of our motherland whose sacrifice has enabled all of us to enjoy a sustained peace at present, assumed greater significance with the participation of Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Army as the Chief Guest at the invitation of Colonel of the Regiment, SLLI and Chief of Staff, Major General TJ Kodituwakku RWP RSP ndu.
The colossal and magnificent SLLI War Heroes' monument that soars into the blue sky was founded on 26 October 2015 as the brainchild of General RMD Ratnayake (Retd) WWV RWP RSP VSV USP ndu psc, and it has been embellished with tales of gallantry and life-size statues as a majestic sentinel that speaks volumes of altruism and gallantry of SLLI fallen comrades. The presence of former Commanders of the Army, General (Retd) Shantha Kottegoda and General (Retd) Daya Rathnayake at the 141st anniversary day commemorations added significance to the SLLI family.
Recitation of the National Anthem, and the SLLI Regimental song respectively at first set the tone for the sequence of commemorative events with multi-religious observances, taking the pride of the day's priorities. As troops stood vigil around the memorial, all those who had gathered there with the Commander of the Army and family members of those departed ones, observed a two-minute silence in remembrance of those fallen SLLI War Heroes.
Seconds later, as all eyes were glued to the monument, the day's Chief Guest, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage amid reverberating solemn melodies inched his way to the monument and saluted the memory of those great War Heroes.
Scores of white-clad sons and daughters of fallen SLLI War Heroes, accompanied largely by their mother or next of kin then paced up with precise restraint and rapt attention, identical to those uniformed mourners, proceeding ahead to honour their beloved departed ones which was a magnificent spectacle one could rarely see elsewhere. It was a moving moment of solemnity, affection and sheer respect for memories of SLLI Heroes.
Senior SLLI Officers, Officers and family members of fallen ones then followed suit carrying flowers and lined up to pay their respect to the War Heroes who made the supreme sacrifice for defence of mother Sri Lanka.
As the Last Post was played and reveille sounded everyone subsequently rose to their feet and once again recollected the memories of those War Heroes of yesteryear bringing the day's commemoration to an end in the presence of a large gathering.
161 Officers and 3583 Other Ranks of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment who performed an indelible task during the war to usher peace before May 2009 laid their lives for defence of the motherland whose sacrifices are admired by all Sri Lankans.
Mrs Janaki Liyange, President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit and Mrs. Shiromala Kodithuwakku Vice President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit also participated in the event.
Soon after the commemorative ceremony, all the officers moved to the SLLI Officers' Mess to attend the day's next event, in which the Directorate of Information Technology introduced a new mobile and web application for “Officers' Mess Management System” that could smoothly manage all the Officers' mess units in the Army for better results.
The application was invented by experts in the Directorate of Information Technology under the directions of Major General HMLD Herath RSP USP psc, Chief Signal Officer of the Army and Brigadier GLSW Liyanage USP psc, Director, Information Technology.
A large gathering of veterans, Senior Officers, Officers, Other Ranks and invitees participated in the War Heroes' commemoration.