Sons and brothers enlist after families lose men defending the country
Commemoration Day: Proud mothers recall sons martyred in the line of duty
Mohammed Al Buloushi was martyred in Yemen two years ago after spending most of his life serving and defending the nation.
This was the sacrifice she was proudest of, said his mother Ayesha Ghareeb, among dozens of families attending the official ceremony on Thursday to mark Commemoration Day at the Wahat al Karama monument in Abu Dhabi.
"He has been a soldier since he was 10 at the time Baba Zayed started a voluntary national service," said his mother, in reference to Sheikh Zayed, the nation’s founder.
"He was so eager to join. He threatened he would burn the house if we didn't allow him to go."
He joined the armed forces on turning 18 and was sent on missions to Iraq, Bahrain, Somalia and finally Yemen.
"Before they announced they would send soldiers to Yemen, he was visiting us and immediately said he wanted to register. After a few days he was assigned to go," she said.
She does not know how her 39-year-old son died in Yemen, but says that he was there for a just cause.
The fallen soldier's 18-year-old son also now serves in the armed forces.
About 200 men, women and children attended the ceremony to honour the memory of loved ones who lost their lives while serving in the past decades.
As canyons fired as a mark of respect and the armed forces military band played, the UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed joined the ceremony.
The rulers each received a wreath to place on a stand after which everyone assembled stood up for the national anthem.
The wreathes were made of three native plants cassia italica, heliotropium and tephrosia apollinea. The sturdy plants that grow in the country’s desert and mountains are known for their ability to survive harsh climatic conditions.
Fighter jets flew across the skies in to salute the martyrs and their families.
Twenty eight families who lost loved ones in battle were presented with a decoration of honour.
Afraa Obaid lost her husband on May 11, 1992 when she was seven months pregnant with their seventh child and their eldest son was nine-years-old.
The pain of losing her 29-year-old husband did not stop her from supporting three sons who joined the UAE Air Force to follow in their father’s footsteps and serve the nation.
"I am proud that I am a martyr's wife and that my children are the sons and daughters of a martyr," she said.
"I raised and educated them on my own. Their father was their role model.”
Her son Captain Ali is serving in Yemen, his brother Captain Hamdan is stationed in Libya, two sons are in the police force and the fourth is still studying at the air force college.
"I feel so proud being here with my dear fellow mothers of martyrs. If they call for women to enrol in the army, I will be the first to join," she said.
Waleed Al Ali was in the Air Force for less than a year when he was martyred on his 18th birthday during an official mission on November 17, 1988.
His mother Ayesha Al Housani clearly recalls the last time her son visited.
"He said he had a surprise to show me in the majlis," she recalled.
"He brought a portrait of himself to place in the majlis and said 'Every time you sit in the majlis, you will remember me'.
"He was very close to me, always came to visit and spend time with his brothers. I did not expect that this would be the last day I would see him."
The photograph is a constant source of strength for Ms Al Housani and by attending the Commemoration Day ceremony every year she feels closer to her son.
"I give to charity on his behalf and always pray for him,” she said.
"I remember him even more and I feel closer to him here.”