Emirati war heroes remembered on Commemoration Day

Poignant ceremony at Wahat Al Karama pays tribute to those who lost their lives

The sacrifices of the UAE’s military heroes were remembered on Tuesday in a poignant ceremony at Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama.

Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Ruler of Fujairah, led the Commemoration Day ceremony that paid tribute to those who lost their lives while in service of the state, and their families.

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My family and the leadership have never allowed me to feel like I've been left behind or alone.
Shamsa Alameemi

Before the event, the UAE's leaders paid tribute to the country's war heroes.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, vowed that the UAE would never forget those who sacrificed their lives in defence of their country.

“May God have mercy on our martyrs. May God have mercy on our heroes," said Sheikh Mohammed. "We shall not forget them. The future generations shall not forget them.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said their memory would live forever.

“Their courage and sacrifice will inspire future generations and their memory will live forever in the history of the UAE," Sheikh Mohamed said.

The event was also attended by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation; and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar; along with a host of other sheikhs and dignitaries.

Twenty-one ceremonial shots were fired, fighter jets flew overhead, while the glittering shallow pool of Wahat Al Karma reflected the number 50 to mark the UAE's Golden Jubilee.

“I'm not sad. I feel overwhelmed by many emotions,” said Shamsa Alameemi, whose father died in a helicopter crash in 2003. “A lot of it is pride and honour.”

Ms Alameemi's father was 26 when he died and she was just 2.

“I feel like I inherited not a responsibility or a duty but almost like a legacy,” she said, her eyes filling up with tears. “A legacy of gratitude.

“Because in the face of such an event like losing a parent I have come to know that it happened for a reason, which is to give back to our country, our leadership, our people and the community.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 3, 2017:    General view of Wahat Al Karama, UAE's martyrs' memorial, across from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi on September 3, 2017. Christopher Pike / The National

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"I feel like it's the essence of what it means to be Emirati, to be aware of the community around you and to love and care for the people.”

Ms Alameemi says she and other families feel pride about the sacrifices made and everyone supported her after the loss of her father.

“My family and the leadership never allowed me to feel like I've been left behind or alone. So I feel very grateful to be a part of this country and to be a part of this community. Because even with greatest loss, I feel like I gained a lot,” she said.

Commemoration Day was marked by a minute's silence at 11.30am on Tuesday, with a public holiday to follow on Wednesday.

The ceremony was also attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region; Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain; Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office; Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed, Chairman of the Board of Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination; Sheikh Khalifa bin Tahnoon, Executive Director of the Martyrs’ Families’ Affairs Office; Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammed; Sheikh Issa bin Zayed; Sheikh Theyab bin Zayed; and Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamdan.

President Sheikh Khalifa introduced Commemoration Day in 2015. November 30 was chosen because it was the date Salem Suhail bin Khamis was killed in 1971 by Iranian forces on the island of Greater Tunb just days before the formation of the UAE.

UAE observes Commemoration Day — in pictures

Updated: December 1st 2021, 5:49 AM