Defenders of the Nation Celebrate 72nd Anniversary

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 20 2021
Focus Defenders of the Nation Celebrate 72nd Anniversary

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe 

“If any international body or organisation continuously targets our country and our war heroes, using baseless allegations, I will also not hesitate to withdraw Sri Lanka from such bodies or organisations.”

President Gotabaya Rajapksa-Ranaviru Day Speech 

‘Well, in the first place, military service, they don’t call it service for nothing. You are actually serving your country. And it is a worthy and valid vocation.’ 

Rick Warren-American Writer 

The Sri Lankan Army, Defenders of our Nation cherished by our people as the protective shield under which our country presently engages in an arduous struggle toward defeating the pandemic and assisting to provide economic growth and social development in our motherland celebrated its 72nd anniversary. Sri Lanka Army is the finest and most trusted service provider on ground in the country whose devotion to duty, dedication, courage and selfsacrifice has gained the unstinted admiration of our people. 

The present Commander of the Army General Shavendra Silva who is also the Chief of Defence Staff at this milestone anniversary while paying tribute to the memory of all fallen War Heroes and remembering injured War Heroes, Retired War Heroes, Serving Officers, All Ranks and Members of the Civil Staff on this 72nd Army Day conveyed his best wishes and warmest greetings to the Nation and sincere thanks to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for gracing the Army Day anniversary ceremonies as the Chief Guest, held at Saliyapura, Gajaba Regiment Regimental HQ for the first time in the history and for granting record promotions to 567 Officers and 10368 Other Ranks in the Army, coincident with the Army Day-2021. 

This year’s commemoration assumed greater significance owing to the participation of HE the President who himself was a distinguished former Keterian and also the first incumbent President evergroomed by the prestigious Gajaba Regiment. Among other participants was General Kamal Gunarathne (Rtd), Secretary Defence who is also a reputed member of the Keterian family who sweated fearlessly for defence of the country. 

Founded on 10 October 1949 as the Ceylon Army after forming its first Regular Force under the command of Brigadier R. Sinclair, the establishment of its own Military Academy in Diyatalawa afterwards saw Brigadier Anton Muthukumaru assumed the mantle of office as the first Sri Lankan Commander of the then Ceylon Army. Blossomed into a fullfledged professional Army during its life-span of past 72 years, the Sri Lanka Army to-date has been effectively commanded by 23 Commanders, elevating the mammoth organisation to impressive heights.

It is significant to note that its expansion with 25 Regiments and Security Force HQs as the most trusted security provider to all Sri Lankans at the expense of their own lives, has won the hearts and minds of all ethnicities across the country. The Sri Lanka Army, having amply spread its unmatched and alert services in times of national security threats, catastrophes, disasters, emergencies, etc with performances of breathtaking virtuosity, has hitherto sacrificed immensely while promoting gestures of goodwill and reconciliation, safeguarding national security interests, engaging in mega nation – building tasks, contributing to UN peacekeeping missions, humanitarian projects, de-mining, constructing houses and common buildings, school infrastructure, conducting of afforestation and beautification projects, restoration/renovation of lakes, tanks, roads, religious sites, etc., producing of innovative vehicles, machinery and equipment, etc, contributing to agriculture sphere and winning outstanding medals at national and international sports tournaments, etc. 

The battle-hardened soldier, General Shavendra Silva, the incumbent 23rd Commander of the Army who was also appointed as Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) has carved a niche for himself among all walks of life due to his tireless commitment for eradication of the pandemic from the country. Of late, his selfless commitment to overcome the country’s COVID-19 threat with his tireless army of skilled soldiers, health authorities and sister services as advised by HE the President and the Prime Minister, has by now evidently brought about desired fruitful end-results, bringing its operational aspect to one of the best at global levels.

 Its preventive and protective quarantining mechanism, one of the firsts in the world, proved a great success, fetching appreciation even from the WHO and other global agencies as well. So much so with its dedication for a dynamic national vaccination drive by introducing a mobile fleet for vaccination that covered the whole country. In conclusion, the pioneering service rendered by Army personnel without any hesitation throughout the past has contributed largely to the prevailing sustainable peace and reconciliation in the country. 

In the same manner, it is greatly appreciated that Sri Lanka’s heroic Army is always at the forefront, and greatly assists to restore normalcy as early as possible when national disasters, emergencies and natural catastrophes, etc. hit our beloved motherland. The writer is an Attorney-atLaw with LLB, LLM, MPhil. (Colombo)- [email protected]

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 20 2021

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