Last salute to comrades-in-arms : The Tribune India

Last salute to comrades-in-arms

Last salute to comrades-in-arms

Picture for representational purpose only.

Maj Gen JS Kataria (retd)

Covid kept children out of schools, professionals out of their offices and the elderly locked up inside the four walls of their homes. Many of us wanted to travel but the need of the hour was to stay safe. With the pandemic now showing signs of ebbing, with my better half on my side, we travelled to Delhi to visit the National War Memorial, ensconced in the heart of the capital city.

The design of the memorial is an epitome of the ‘chakravyuh’ from Mahabharata. It has four concentric ‘chakras’, the outer most being the Rakshak Chakra (the tree line representing soldiers on the border), followed by the Tyag Chakra (brick walls on which the names of the martyrs of Independent India are enshrined), the Veerta Chakra (houses bronze murals displaying famous battles fought since Independence and the 21 Param Vir Chakra recipients) and at the heart lies the Amar Chakra (where the Amar Jawan Jyoti remains ignited under a tall obelisk).

As we stepped onto the red stone tiles of the memorial, inside the Rakshak Chakra, a gush of blood surged into my veins. Every soldier living or gone has been longing to see this, a long-cherished dream of those who donned the uniform to defend our country. I thanked the Almighty that I was alive to see this monument of valour and sacrifice.

It was sunset time and the next of kin of a martyr, chosen for that day to lay the wreath, had taken position in front of the obelisk in the centre of the memorial. The colour of the sky was changing into a glorious hue to commemorate the occasion!

Having crossed the Rakshak Chakra and the Tyag Chakra, we stood in silence on the steps leading to the obelisk in the centre of the Amar Chakra, amidst a large gathering of visitors present to witness the solemn ceremony. Led by the wreath-bearers, the martyr’s family laid a wreath in front of the Amar Jawan Jyoti. The guard of honour presented the arms and the military band played the National Anthem. A befitting tribute to the heroes of the nation who ‘gave their today for our tomorrow’!

After the ceremony, led by our guide, we moved into the Tyag Chakra to trace the names of the martyrs of my battalion, a vital part of our visit. We paid floral tribute to the martyrs of my unit who had given the supreme sacrifice commencing from the 1971 war and during my command fighting terrorists in the Valley, to ensure the safety, honour and integrity of India. It was my final salute to my comrades-in-arms. May their souls rest in peace and rouse each one of us to rise again and again to defend our motherland.

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