14th January 2023! Some of you whilst flying across India today are likely to hear an announcement commemorating the Indian Armed Forces Veterans Day. Screens would be playing the "We for Veterans" Anthem too. Yes it is the 7th Veterans Day today!
What is this celebration that is sweeping the nation? Let me take you back to last Sunday 8th January 2023!
#MarineDrive or officially Netaji Subhash Bose Marg came alive in a spontaneity of youthful zest, proudly served military veterans, festivity and fervour typified by an impromptu rendition of “Maa Tujhe Salaam” that was overwhelming and raising goosebumps! Watch this clip that is near viral to launch this write up on 2nd Indian Armed Forces Veteran Day Parade held on 8th January 2023:
“If yet your blood does not rage, then it is water that flows in your veins. For what is the flush of youth, if it is not of service to the motherland” ~ Chandrashekhar Azad
Service to the motherland has been a core trait of Indian Military personnel across the three services of Army, Navy and Air Force. Sacrifices made by the freedom fighters, both ahimsawadis and revolutionaries have been spelt out in the amazing book “Revolutionaries : The Other Story of How India Won Its Freedom” by the inspirational writer Sanjeev Sanyal. That zest is well and truly carried as a legacy living torch into independent India with the armed forces, who ensure that the nation is secured by all means. The celebration in the form of Veteran’s Day Parade is a treasured occasion to honour the valour of the great people who strived hard for the nation’s glory and security. The day allows us to not just honour the people who have sacrificed their lives for our country, but also an opportunity to thank the men and women who serve in the military right now to protect the country. It is also to reflect on the many freedoms that we have in our country due to the hard work and dedication of those individuals. To me, having served in the military is not merely a sacrifice or a sign of heroism. It is a defining way of life that remains in my DNA forever!
"Either I will come back after hoisting the Tricolour, or I will come back wrapped in it. But I’ll be back for sure." – Late Captain Vikram Batra, PVC
Veterans Day is observed throughout the world. Many countries observe it as a public holiday with themed ceremonies honouring the veterans. Since 2017, the 14th of January has been recognized as Indian Armed Forces Veterans Day in India to recognise and honour the veterans' sacrifices and selfless devotion in the service of the country. Historically the origin commemoration was that of Armistice Day with festivities that began in 1919 on the first anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. The year 2023 marks the 7th Indian Armed Forces Veterans Day. The day is observed as a mark of respect and recognition of the services rendered by Field Marshal KM Cariappa OBE, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces who retired on 14 January 1953.
Our great nation, built on the sacrifices of many leaders, has always recognized and honoured the contributions of soldiers and farmers. Recognizing veterans is a way to express gratitude for their service and sacrifice, to remember their legacy, and to educate the public about the importance of military service. This also helps to promote national unity and pride among citizens. The 2023 Veterans Day celebration was held with great fanfare at the Marine Drive promenade. A special parade was organised by the Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter in partnership with the Headquarters Western Naval Command, Headquarters Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area (Army) & Headquarters, Maritime Air Operations (IAF). It was flagged off by the Governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari in the presence of Vice Admiral AB Singh, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command (WNC) & Lt Gen HS Kahlon, SM, the General Officer Commanding Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area.
The veterans, dressed in ceremonial attire and wearing medals, marched from the NCPA to Marine Drive, with some veterans in wheelchairs also participating. The march was cheered on by hundreds of young people, members of the military, and citizens, as they shouted slogans like "Vande Mataram'' and "Bharat Mata Ki Jai." I, Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal, an Indian Navy Veteran and a proud member of NFMC Core Committee had the delightful privilege to compere the live streaming courtesy Ashvin Gidwani a son of Veteran and his team at AGP World. Watch a small clip courtesy eminent artist Prathamesh Sawant.
The vision, diligence and inspiring leadership of Cdr Vijay Vadhera, NM, I.N. Retd (but not Tired) and the core committee members of NFMC gifted Mumbai and the nation a memorable celebration as a synergy between the serving military personnel, very senior and other veterans, students, cadets of Sea Cadet Corps and NCC, corporate leaders, children, youth and common public. This is captured in a wonderful montage by Mrs Meena Datta, daughter of a veteran and the media queen of NFMC. Watch this wonderful clip.
Despite a few audio silences in the beginning, do watch the full stream of the 2nd Indian Veterans Day Parade at https://youtu.be/1Z4P7_fd-R
The event was made possible by support and sponsorship from AGP World, NCPA Mumbai, Transworld & Federal Bank. Team #JOI was honoured to have been part of the factor of success of this national commemoration.
Before closing this piece it's important to note that the 8th Indian Armed Forces Veteran Day Parade will be on 7th January 2024! Do stay connected with us as we seek to be people of value to add value to you! Reach out to us at www.johnsonodakkal.com