Special ceremonies were held after the arrival of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Their Highnesses Rulers of the Emirates to Wahat Al Karama.
Later on, the national anthem was played and a 21-gun salute was fired by the artillery. A number of the UAE Air Force aircrafts flew in a tribute to the martyrs. Sheikhs laid the wreaths at the Memorial of Martyrs in recognition of their sacrifices and the UAE’s national anthem was played.
The leaders also honoured 18 families of martyrs and presented the Martyr Medal in recognition of their sacrifices for the sake of the homeland.
''The history of nations and people witnesses moments of pride and great milestones. Today is one of the most brilliant moments in the history of the UAE. Today, the Emiratis pay tribute and express their appreciation towards those who presented sacrifices for the sake of their homeland," H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, told the audience.
"Martyrs of the nation have written the story of the country’s pride. They translated courage, belonging and loyalty values in reality to defend the country’s achievements. The martyrdom of Salem Suhail bin Khamis, the first martyr in the history of the UAE, is a symbol of national sacrifices and it is instilled in our souls. At the same time, our history has proven the Emiratis’ willingness to defend their country with strength and heroism, pride and loyalty, as our forefathers fought against invaders and sacrificed their souls for the sake of this homeland. Homeland, for Emiratis, is the most precious thing in their social system," he added.
"On this day every year, the UAE leadership and people recall the story of those elite youths who sacrificed their souls for the sake of their dear country. Their sacrifices are a source of pride for all of us. Their sacrifices have proven the national spirit of the UAE citizens; consequently they united behind the flag of the homeland and wise leadership," Sheikh Abdullah said.
"Today, we have the right to be proud of the families of martyrs, not only because they are the families of those great men, but also because they taught them the meaning of belonging; for that, we highly appreciate them," he noted.
He concluded, "We celebrate their immortality, not their passing away, the acts of heroism which will be immortal in the memory of this great homeland."
The event was also attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance; H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah; H.H. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman; H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah; H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla, Crown Prince of Umm Al Qaiwain; H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah; Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of Federal National Council; H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler`s Representative in the Eastern Region; H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan; H.H. Sheikh Surour bin Mohammed Al Nahyan; H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court; H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation; H.H. Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs; H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Adviser to the UAE President; H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the State Security Department; H.H. Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; Sheikh Khalifa bin Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Director of The Martyrs’ Families’ Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, a number of Sheikhs, ministers, senior armed forces officers and Ministry of Interior officials, as well as members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the UAE, families of martyrs and others.
Their Highnesses Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and other rulers of the emirates toured the memorial site (Wahat Al Karama) where they heard from Sheikh Khalifa bin Tahnoun bin Mohamed Al Nahyan, Director of the Martyrs' Families' Affairs Office at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, about the features of the site.
He said the site includes the Memorial Plaza, a large open area of over 4,000 square metres which will host the annual Commemoration Day ceremony. A circular pool of water – 15mm deep – occupies the centre of the Memorial Plaza. The pool provides a unique reflection of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and also the memorial’s panels.
The memorial comprises 31 aluminium-clad panels, each leaning on the other, representing the unity, solidarity and mutual support that binds together leadership and citizens. The panels are engraved with poems written by the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The long spine at the rear of the memorial is engraved with the pledge of allegiance of the UAE Armed Forces.
Wahat Al Karama also includes the Pavilion of Honour. The pavilion’s roof is made from eight large panels, seven of which represent the UAE’s emirates and the eighth representing the nation’s heroes. At the centre of the pavilion are seven massive glass panels, representing the seven emirates; on each is written the Armed Forces’ pledge of allegiance. It has a grand stand which can accommodate up to 1,200 people.
The leaders concluded their tour at the Pavilion of Honour which contains the names of 196 fallen heroes displayed on an illuminated panel made from aluminium reclaimed from Armed Forces vehicle used by the nation's defenders in the battlefields of honour and duty.
The leaders expressed their pride in the martyrs who offered the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the nation, while affirming that the UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will always remember the brave and heroic acts of those galaxy of heroes who will go down in the annals of the UAE's history as an inspiration for the generations for their loyalty, dedication and sacrifice.
They also hailed the families of the martyrs who offered and brought up these young, loyal and dedicated patriots. The honour of these families behind their children and their pride in them, the rulers affirmed, will always be a source of reverence and appreciation from the leadership and people of the UAE.