Their struggle is not in vein 

In the memory of those who proudly sacrificed their lives for our beloved country. 

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His mother remembers him as the handsome man he always appeared to be to her: tall and strong, with a shaved head and always with a hint of bukhoor. The bukhoor that she made for years and sold for a few dirhams in order to secure a decent life for her children. The scent is stuck to her fingers as she moulds the ingredients into round black pieces and preserves them in a glass jar, hoping that his memory will be locked in there, too, but with every whiff, her eyes well up. Each morning his wife applies the bukhoor to his children’s clothes before they leave the house, as though reminding them that they come from the bloodline of the brave. A deafening silence fills the house as the smoke rises and his memory swirls. He was a man of honour, one who was familiar with the horrors of war. Upon his departure he kissed their heads and promised he’d be back; instead they got his uniform and medals draped in a flag. 

This week we remember those who have fallen while protecting the glory of the flag and the safety of this country. 

Forty-four years ago, on November 30, 1971, a young policeman called Salem Suhail Al Khamis fell defending the Greater Tunb island when the Iranian armed forces made their first military assault. There were only six members at the police station that night; the calm island never required more forces. As the enemy forces marched on, the soldiers used the station as a fort and started attacking. The battle went on for hours, and when they couldn’t defend the fort any longer and as one of the men tried to bring the flag down, 20-year-old Al Khamis stepped out and refused to give up. They opened fire and he fell at the foot of the flagpole. The fort was compromised. 

The UAE’s brave soldiers have fought in conflicts to make sure that the hands of the enemy don’t touch the serenity of this country’s unity. They have helped citizens in ­neighbouring and far off countries. 

Each one of us carries the burden of their duty. Their sacrifices shouldn’t be forgotten; their glory should seep through us and ignite a fire that can’t be withheld. In their memory, we should work together to make the UAE proud of its children, and be heroes in our chosen fields. 

Our soldiers who fell in Yemen were helping a sister country survive and revive. They kept their oath, one that they repeated proudly every time they sang our national anthem, the last line of which says: “We sacrifice our lives for you, oh my homeland.” 

These heroes are not dead, they are immortal, and their glory will be studied and repeated. May peace and our prayers always be with them.