Eastern Eye (UK)
Sacrifice of Commonwealth war ‘volunteers’ remembered
INDIA's high commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, led tributes to soldiers, including those from the Indian subcontinent, who died in the two World Wars at the annual Commonwealth Day ceremony in London on Monday (13).
The Memorial Gates at Hyde Park Corner was host to defence personnel and diplomats to honour the memory of the “volunteers” who fought with the British armed forces.
The Memorial Gates were inaugurated by the late Queen in 2002 as a lasting memorial to honour the war efforts of five million service men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean.
“What we do here at these gates is more important than ever, given the war in Ukraine, and always will be,” said Lord Karan Bilimoria, entrepreneur and chair of the Memorial Gates Council.
This year's ceremony had a special focus on the Windrush generation, referring to those who arrived in the UK from the West Indies on the Empire Windrush in 1948 and others of that generation until 1971.
With “Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future” as the theme of Commonwealth Day this year, the aim of the celebrations is to unite 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens across its 56 member-states.
It is the first to be presided over by King Charles as the head of the Commonwealth.
“We stand together now to face the challenges of the moment and seize the opportunities of tomorrow,” said Baroness Patricia Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth.
“I believe profoundly that our family of 56 nations and 2.5 billion people is stronger, more vibrant, more connected and more purposeful than ever,” she said.
Nations across the Commonwealth host inter-faith and multicultural observances to mark the day, with one of the largest gatherings being a traditional service at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by the King, senior government officials, and other dignitaries.
Commonwealth Day has been celebrated around the world on the second Monday in March every year since 1977.