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Honours war heroes:

They came in their tens, dozens, scores and hundreds totaling over two hundred thousand people from all walks of life, with the Lion flags aflutter, a riot of colour and joy in the very air while they marched from the Campbell Park Colombo to the Parliament grounds, Kotte but among them, the heartrending sight of the war heroes who had lost limbs joining the marching crowd with their crutches reminiscent of the sacrifices of thousands of their valiant comrades in arms had made to free this country held to ransom by a group of bloodthirsty terrorists for nearly three decades.

Yesterday’s mass rally to felicitate and express the gratitude of the nation to the heroes of the hour, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Commanders of the three Armed Forces Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshall Roshan Gunatillake and all the members of the Armed Forces and Police who had made it possible for the nation once again to enjoy the freedom won by those among the living and dead members of the Armed Forces.


The crowd on their way to Parliament grounds. Picture by Chaminda Hittetiyege

The day too stood solemn with heavy cloud in the skies with a rain that was experienced earlier in the day the people and the valiant soldiers braved the rain, men, women and children, the young and old, but the intermittent rain cleared up by afternoon providing a shade to the marching thousands as if the weather gods had had been kind to the Sri Lankan nation that had suffered immeasurably under the threat of the terrorists who had built their killer machine on lies, falsehoods and subterfuge.

The sight was heartrending when the crowds from all parts of the country of all ages and sizes their faces lit up with the joy of freedom going in one direction to the Parliament ground and songs, slogans and chanting of religious prayers and invocations from the religious dignitaries of the national religions that had come to give their blessings to the nation.

After two minutes silence in memory of the fallen war heroes and civilians who had sacrificed their lives the Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya the Most Ven Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera performed the Buddhist religious rites followed by Hindu rites by Kurukkal, Swami K.L.Mohan, Islamic rites by Moulavi Mohammed Niyaz and Christian rites by Rev Fr.G.Hettiarachchi.

After the religious rites, a number of well known artistes came on stage and once again the song ‘Ran malak lesa dev bambun dothing pidu ea pin bime’ was sung by Sunil Edirisinghe, the lyrics symbolic of the occasion written by our journalist colleague Karunaratne Saputantri of our sister newspaper Silumina who was killed with his colleagues when the LTTE terrorists attacked the aircraft they were travelling in.

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived at the meeting the spontaneous applause was deafening and among the shouts heard was ‘our saviour’ and the more enthusiastic and able bodied people were seen jumping for joy to welcome the leader who followed in the footsteps of the heroic leaders and kings of the past in liberating the country from the ruthless terrorist group that had killed infants, pregnant women and the old and the feeble without exception.

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