Published on - 1/25/2008
LIONS OF THE ARMY, Navy and Air Force, in one of the most acclaimed and respected annual events in the military calendar were conferred national recognition Thursday (24) evening at a glittering ceremony by His Excellency, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Commander-in-chief in the presence of a galaxy of distinguished guests and military chiefs.
Investiture of 2008 Gallantry Awards, Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya (WWV), Rana Wickrema Padakkama (RWP), Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) on contemporary War Heroes who have selflessly contributed took place at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH). The old adage, â€œSoldiers Never Dieâ€ was once again recalled as 142 Army Heroes, 125 Navy sailors and 15 Air Force servicemen marched on to the BMICH stage to receive their decorations from the President and the Prime Minister amidst thundering applause.
Investiture of Gallantry Awards to Officers and Other Ranks of three Armed Forces is organized and coordinated by the Army's Directorate of Personnel Administration with the patronage of Presidential Secretariat and Ministry of Defence.
Members of the Armed Forces who fought against the enemy either with supreme sacrifice or utmost dedication are nominated for conferment of Weera Wickrema Vibhushanaya (WWV), the Rana Wickrema Padakkama (RWP) and the Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), the highest laurels that could be awarded at national level. Only a representative gathering of 282 service personnel out of a little over 500 members of the armed forces who are eligible for this recognitions were present on the occasion.
The formal programme of the day commenced with the President's arrival at the venue. Hon. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayke, President Secretary Mr. Lalith Weeratunge, Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, Comander of the Navy Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and Commander of the Air Force Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonatilake received the President.
The day's proceedings began as the National Anthem rent the air to the tunes of tri-service band. The inauguration also saw fallen War Heroes are respected with a two-minute silence as everybody rose to their feet.
The presidential secretariat afterwards read out citation and proclamation of WWV, RWP, RSP calling upon tri-service members to receive the investiture from His Excellency, the President. Hon Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake joined the President decorating some of the RSP recipients.
Parents, wives and next of kin of many fallen War Heroes were present to receive the conferment on their beloved ones who made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of the country.
One of the touching moments that brought tears to the eyes took place when two small children of fallen War Heroes walked to the President to accept laurels on behalf of their beloved fathers.
Later, HE the President in a moving speech hailed the dedication of Service Personnel and vowed to eradicate terrorism from the country. The audience included members of the Clergy, Ministers, Parliamentarians, diplomats, Senior Military Officers, relatives of recipients and a large gathering of invitees.
The sentimental religious melody â€œDanno Budungeâ€ heralded conclusion of the proceedings with the playing of the Last Post reminding the military traditions as everybody stood up in a solemn manner. Day's programme culminated with the recital of the National Anthem.