The funerals yesterday of two Emirati airmen who died when their jet crashed in Yemen are a solemn reminder that serving our country can demand the ultimate sacrifice. We ought to be proud that despite these risks, there is no shortage of people willing to stand up for our values and our ideals, such as attempting to restore Yemen's internationally-recognised government and wrest power usurped by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
But even in this context, the selflessness of the Al Marashda family from Kalba stands out. As we reported yesterday, eight brothers from the family are serving in the Armed Forces – seven in Yemen and one in Somalia. When a ninth brother also applied to enter the military to serve alongside his siblings, his bid was rejected so he could look after his widowed mother, Amna Salem Hamdan Al Marashda.
Mrs Al Marashda was having none of that. “I refused,” she said. “I personally went and applied on his behalf and they continually refused, so I decided to take matters in my own hand and informed His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.” Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, visited the family to laud their commitment. He described the entire family as a credit to their country and a source of pride for all Emiratis.
Mrs Al Marashda's stance helps demonstrate the kind of selflessness and sacrifice that is being celebrated in the Mother of the Nation Festival, which starts in the capital next week. Although the festival's focus is on Sheikha Fatima, the widow of the UAE's Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, it celebrates all the mothers who contribute to the fabric of this country and is designed to empower them to keep doing so.
Too many of these women fail to get the credit they deserve. It would have been easy for Mrs Al Marashda’s remarkable story to have remained known only to her immediate family and those in her community in Kalba. So too it is inevitable that there are many other Emirati mothers whose contributions to our society go unheralded – often at their own behest. When the Mother of the Nation Festival begins on March 24, these women will be celebrated collectively for having helped make this country what it is.