The concept of the Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day), dates back to 11 Nov 1919 when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to the Americans and honoured the Military Veterans of WW-I. Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also have been celebrating the day on their prominent dates since long, but the concept in India is just taking roots.
A need was felt to dedicate a Day to our Veteransfor two primary reasons: One to honour them; Two – to resolve the problems faced by them after retirement. So three years ago, It was decided by the Army Headquarters and instructions were issued to all Sainik Welfare Departments in the country to observe 14 Jan as the Veterans Day, the day when both our Field Marshals hung their uniform.
Three months ago Cdr Vijay Vadhera, Secy NFMC conceived a plan to celebrate the Veterans Day this year in a befitting manner and briefed VAdm Girish Luthra FOCinC (West). The CinC called upon a meeting of his Principal Staff Officers where Cdr Vadhera spelt out the plan to seek Headquarters involvement in fulfilment of the objectives. THE PLAN
A three-pronged approach was devised to make our citizens aware of the importance of Veterans Day. One- to Advertise through Print and Broadcast media. Two- to put up huge Banners at prominent places in the city like Petrol-pumps, Railway-stations and Road-Junctions. Three- lectures by Veterans during the week preceding V Day in 10 prominent schools of Mumbai, highlighting the capability and performance of our Armed forces and the Veterans’ contribution to our Society.In all the schools the students showedkeenness to join the Armed Forces after having listened to the Veterans’ pep talks. Sponsorship was sought by Cdr Vadhera from prominent business houses for putting-up advertisement in major dailies on the 14 Jan. Cdrs Abhishek Kankan and LtCdr Farookh Tarapore were interviewed on Door Darshan & Cdrs Shailender Sharma and Raj Dutta were aired on Rainbow FM on Veterans Day with a repeat broadcast in the evening. Both these activities were well appreciated by all. Large Banners were designed by Veterans, manufactured by MDL and put up by Headquarters at prominent spots in Mumbai a few days preceding the V Day. Dr Mrs Kanta Mukherjee, W/O Surg VAdm HP Mukherjee on her own initiative put up a banner in Versova. Cdr VS Shukla too on his own initiative installed a Banner at ‘Shaheed Manoj Pandey’ Chowk, Lucknow. Two of our veterans contributed articles to ‘Fauji India’ Magazine for Jan, that was a Veterans’ special issue.
The festivities of the Veterans Day commenced with Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Colaba War Memorial, which was attended by a substantial number of serving and retired personnel, including Adm VS Shekhawat and other senior officers of all three services. The War Memorial was exquisitely decorated with colourful Lilies, roses, hyacinth and carnations. The Wreaths were laid by Veterans, FOMA, AOC MAO, GOC(M&G) Area and FOCinC(West). The Last post was played by the service Buglers as the tri-services Guard carried out the Shok Shastra drill immaculately with perfect synchro and precision during wreath-laying.
The next function was organised at Sailors institute SAGAR, where all the veterans and serving personnel of the three services assembled and interacted with each other over tea and light refreshments. The CinC personally met and discussed issues with veteran sailors and Jawans over a cup of tea. During noontime, the NFMC committee members gathered in IMSC to bid farewell to VAdm Girish Luthra, our outgoing Commander-in-Chief.
The third ‘Veterans Day’ was celebrated by the Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter in a grand scale with great pomp and show, to make the citizens cognizant of our benefaction to Society. The NFMC apart from commemorating the V Day in a befitting style this year triggered a friendly bonding with major schools of Mumbai, shall continue the worthy enterprise throughout the year by sustained interaction with schools. Our effort shall be to groom the children for the armed forces and prepare them for a vibrant India of tomorrow.
** The hallmark of Veterans is that they enter spreading cheer and leave happy footprints when they exit.