28th May 2021 21:03:44 Hours


The memory of unsung heroes in the World Wars I & II was brought alive this morning (15) when the ‘Armed Forces ' Remembrance Day ', more popularly, called the ‘Poppy Day ' ceremony, organized by the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen 's Association (SLESA), got underway with scores of Retired Senior Tri Service Officers and Other Ranks, War veterans, serving Senior Officers, including Major General Jagath Gunawardena, Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army, Senior Tri Service Officers and other invitees at the Colombo Vihara Maha Devi Park cenotaph. The ceremony, coordinated by the office of the Chief of Defence Staff on behalf of the SLESA was coloured by solemn and melancholic tunes of bagpipers. Major General (Retd) Upul Perera, President of the SLESA and Chairman of the Armed Forces ' Remembrance Day, Poppy Commemoration and Cenotaph Development Committee and Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Ajith Siyambalapitiya, General Secretary of the SLESA, together with senior ex-servicemen gathered at the venue. The brief ceremony got to a start with singing of the National Anthem and observance of a two-minute silence in memory of those World War heroes. Religious observances of all four major denominations followed, next. As ceremonially-dressed troops kept vigil around the corners of the cenotaph, attendees walked up to the cenotaph and placed the first ‘Poppy ' wreath and paid tribute to their memory, followed suit and saluted the dead heroes, followed by next of kin of those dead ones. Next, sounded the Last Post honouring their memory in accordance with military traditions as trumpeters of the tri-services, joined together to play the melody. Afterwards, the Reveille sounded, marking the culmination of the brief ceremony, attended by a limited gathering of ex-servicemen and serving Officers and Other Ranks due to COVID-19 pandemic health guidelines and regulations. SLESA seniors also pinned ‘Poppy ' flowers on the attendees at the venue upon their arrival. Today 's ceremony, the apex of a series of events preceded a ‘Poppy Week ' where Poppy flags, were also sold to the public. At the outset, the first Poppy Flag was pinned on the President at the President 's Secretariat.