26th October 2019 06:55:19 Hours
The Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) Regimental Headquarters at Panagoda, reawakening memorable heroic acts of 3878 fallen SLLI War Heroes in contemporary times once again, paid its glowing tribute to their memory this evening (25) by staging a colourful military ceremony, blended with a religious segment. The SLLI, the oldest and one of the most reputed regiments in the Army with its motto “I Serve,” was raised in 1881.
The day’s entire programme near the skyward-looking cenotaph of exceptional architecture in the RHQ premises dignified the day’s significance, and added weight as hundreds of next of kin and invitees were on hand. The presence of the Chief Guest, General (Retd) Shantha Kottegoda, Secretary Defence himself, an admired SLLI Officer and Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army at the location at the invitation of Major General Mahinda Mudalige, Colonel of the Regiment, SLLI and the Commander, Security Forces - West added further colour and prominence.
As troops remained positioned, drive-past Guard Turn Outs saluted the Chief Guest and the Commander of the Army before both of them were warmly received by the Colonel of the Regiment, SLLI, Major General Mahinda Mudalige and the Centre Commandant, Colonel Anura Dissanayake on arrival at the venue.
The stage was then set to proceed with the day’s itinerary as singing of the National Anthem, Army Song and the Regimental Anthem began rending the air as everyone remained standing. As vigil troops moved to the cenotaph, the SLLI Centre Commandant delivered a brief welcome speech and underlined the importance of the day’s significance, followed by a two-minute silence recalling memories of their supreme sacrifices in a solemn manner.
The reading of the formal War Heroes’ oath by the Deputy Centre Commandant afterwards paved the way for the day’s Guest of Honour, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army to add a few comments to the occasion. The day’s Chief Guest whose undying memories of the premises are still persisting, was then invited to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for us to sustain in a brief oration.
As dusk was falling, both General (Retd) Kottegoda and Lieutenant General Silva in keeping with military traditions inched their way to the cenotaph and revered their memories placing floral wreaths in succession as the Last Post and Reveille commenced reverberating in the background.
Afterwards, weeping parents, sons and daughters and next of kin of those War Heroes lined up and venerated them in flowers after reaching the magnificent cenotaph of unique nature bringing the main ceremony to end.
Later on, an overnight ‘Pirith’ chanting ceremony in the premises commenced and it was to be culminated with offer of ‘Heel Daana’ (breakfast) to members of the Maha Sangha.
General (retd) Daya Ratnayake, former Commander of the Army, former Chief of Staff, retired veterans in SLLI and spouses were also associated with the commemorative event.