It might have been another year of remembrance at the War Memorial but citizens of Chandigarh made sure their heroes werent forgotten this Martyrs Day
He walked in alone,limping a little,holding on to a cane. Our eyes didnt meet for he looked straight ahead,towards the centre of the Chandigarh War Memorial. Steering away from a group of school students who had gathered as well,this 40-something man picked up a candle,lit it alongside the hundreds others,closed his eyes and readied to leave as silently as he had arrived. Do you have a defence background, we asked him abruptly. To this Raj Kumar,who works as a senior accountant with the UT administration,answered so befittingly: No. Do I need to have a defence background to come here and remember our heroes? I came because I wanted to.
Yes,Raj Kumar and many other citizens like him who turned up at the War Memorial this Martyrs Day – be it for a candle-lighting or wreath laying ceremony – came without any invitations or expectations. They arrived in respect and remembrance of the brave men of the country who have since long gone but not forgotten. I wanted Shivangi to see the War Memorial and what better reason than the Martyrs Day to bring her here, said Mamta Kanoria as she held on to her seven-year-old daughters hand. A homemaker from Sector 28,Kanoria doesnt have relatives or even friends associated with the defence forces but still she has a connection. They gave up their lives for us. The least we can do is remember and thank them on a day like this, smiled the lady as she got her other daughter Sukirti to light up a candle. And quietly the trio moved on.
Surprisingly for a robust gathering that boasted of as many as 30 students from Shivalik Public School,a dozen from the Army School,around 45 youngsters from the Army Institute of Law,men in wheelchairs from the Parapalegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) along with umpteen officers,jawans and families from the Western Command…the Memorial stood silent. We should all offer silent prayers to our martyrs. This is my first visit to the War Memorial and it makes me so proud, remarked Sahiba Nanda,a third year student from the Army Institute of Law. With the Army band playing out somber notes in the background,the crowds lit up candles making a ring of light around the Memorials centre. Its such a nice gesture, spoke Col Jagbir Singh (retd) who walked in with his wife Jasvinder. I fought the 1971 war and my name could well have been up there, spoke the retired Colonel. Closeby,Pardeep Kumar,a former jawan of the 89 Armoured Regiment,now with the PRC,steered in his wheelchair on the ramp,a candle in his hand. This day makes me proud, he remarked holding on to his emotions. But there were some who couldnt put a brave face. Like the daughter-in-law of the UT Administrator and Punjab Governor Gen S F Rodrigues (retd) who broke down during the formal wreath laying ceremony held during the day. After all it was a day like none other..
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