First ever Ranaviru Day celebrations in the UK
Posted on July 4th, 2009

By Janaka Alahapperuma from London

Great Britain celebrated its first ever Ranaviru Day or “ƒ”¹…”Armed Forces Day’ on Saturday 27th June 2009 honoring the men and women who dedicate their lives to defending Britain, including serving troops, service families, veterans and recruits.

Hundreds of events took place around Britain to celebrate the achievements of serving troops, service families, veterans and recruits. The centerpiece of the celebrations was held at the historic Dockyard at Chatham, Kent, on 27th June, which was included, a fly-past by the Red Arrows, parachute displays and veterans’ parade.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and first lady Sarah Brown attended the celebrations and paid tribute to the brave men and women of the Armed Forces at the UK’s first Armed Forces Day, along with about 30,000 members of the public.

During a speech, the Prime Minister said those attending events around the country had demonstrated the “high esteem and regard” in which the Armed Forces are held.

He further said “The Armed Forces who do so much, the families who make such sacrifices. I don’t think we say thank you enough, today is our chance to say it and say it with one voice, thank you very much to our Armed Forces.” Mr Brown praised the courage of forces in Afghanistan and told veterans that their efforts in previous wars would never be forgotten.

In April, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited troops stationed in the Helmand Province and announced the Armed Forces Day during his historical visit to Afghanistan. Later he launched the Armed Forces Day flag campaign on Tuesday 28th April to celebrate the event in grand scale.

Speaking in Afghanistan, British PM Gordon Brown said, “Britain’s armed forces are second to none, and the whole country owes them an enormous debt of gratitude. Our troops risk their lives fighting the agents of terror here on the front line in Afghanistan to keep the streets of Britain safe, and they are a force for good standing up for the UK’s interests right across the world”.

“Armed Forces Day is our chance to say thank you. I’m proud to be out here in Helmand Province launching the Armed Forces Day flags campaign – I urge everyone to send off for this specially designed flag and fly it with pride.”

English Army was established in 1661. From the Union Act it was merged with Scottish Army and introduced the British Army in 1707. In Sri Lanka “ƒ”¹…”Ceylon Volunteer Force’ was started by British rulers in 1881. Later in 1910, “ƒ”¹…”Ceylon Defence Force’ was established. Therefore British armed forces have nearly 350 years old long history comparing to Sri Lanka. They were our masters and we learnt lot from them. Until 1970’s our armed forces were called as Royal Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Now things have changed.

When British government and its people decided to honour their armed forces and fallen heroes who fought for the sovereignty, freedom, safety and unity of Great Britain for many centuries, Sri Lankans are miles ahead in honoring our heroes. In fact, Sri Lanka is a world leader in that front. Sri Lankan community is also tremendous in the way they paid their respect and gratitude towards Ranaviruvo during last couple of decades. Perhaps the British Government has gained some ideas from modern day Ranaviru Day celebrations from Sri Lanka, how to pay the nation’s respect and tribute to heroes who sacrifice their today for our tomorrow.

On Monday 22nd June, Prime Minister Brown accepted the first flag from members of the Armed Forces at 10, Downing Street, at his official residence in London. Dorothy Hughes (Royal Hospital Chelsea), Sgt Nicola Thompson (Army), Corporal Ryan Dunn (Royal Air Force), AB Mat Aconley (Navy) and Cadet George Whitfield met the PM at the occasion. Downing Street flew the Armed Forces Day flag for the week leading up to the event to honour the Forces. Thousands of flags were flown simultaneously around the country in the run-up to the UK’s first Armed Forces Day.

The specially-designed Ranaviru flag was introduced to the public and available to buy to celebrate the UK’s first ever Armed Forces Day – a new annual event. Hundreds of councils throughout the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man raised a unique flag to support Britain’s first ever Armed Forces Day at 10:30 BST on 22 June to begin a week of celebrations in honor of the Armed Forces past, present and future.

Armed Forces Day flags were flown the length and breadth of the country, from the Shetland Islands to Land’s End, and from Lowestoft (England’s most easterly point) to the Scilly Isles. Over 3,000 members of the public, businesses and schools flew official Armed Forces Day flags and joined in the celebrations. Flags were also raised by British Service men and women serving overseas, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cyprus, Germany, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

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