The story of UAE's first martyr will make you sad but proud
Dubai - Salim's body was buried on the island he defended and still claimed by the UAE.
The first Emirati soldier to die in the line of duty was 20-year-old Salem Suhail bin Khamis, on November 30, 1971, during the "battle of the Greater Tunb" against Iranian forces shortly before the UAE's formation.
Bin Khamis led a six-member police force on Greater Tunb, invaded by Iran on the eve of Federation, December 2, 1971. He refused to lower the flag of Ras Al Khaimah, and the invaders killed him for his defiance.
Described by his family as stubborn and passionate, Salim became the country's first martyr when he refused to lower the Ras Al Khaimah flag from the police station he was guarding.
Salim's body was buried on the island he defended and still claimed by the UAE. The only photo available for Bin Khamis is in his police uniform when he joined the force at the age of 18.
The UAE three islands, the Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, belonging to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Musa to the emirate of Sharjah, are still under the Iranian occupation.
A symbol of self-denial, sacrifice
Emiratis and expats are geared up to mark the auspicious occasion of the second Commemoration Day, and remember the fallen soldiers locally and abroad.
Abdullah Salem, an Emirati government employee in Ras Al Khaimah, told Khaleej Times that his people at the Shamal area are all set to commermorate Martyr's Day. "We have already run a number of meetings to decide on the most eye-catching way to mark National Day." Visits will be made to the schools to tell the children about the sacrifice of the national heroes, he added.
Khalid Aziz, an Emirati national in Umm Al Quwain, said the martyr is the true symbol of self-denial, and such sacrifice can never be marked on just one day. "Each and every day is not even enough to show gratitude to those unique heroes whom we should do our best to fulfil their will, and follow their shiny route of dedication."
Martyrdom is one of the top objectives in life, he added. "We are more than happy to sacrifice for our beloved country to have this honour, glory, and eternal happiness in paradise."
The martyr is a source of unlimited honour to his family, Aziz underlined. "The martyr has turned his body into a bridge for others to cross to the safe haven. He is a sun that shines over Yemen to wipe out injustice and persecution."
Abdullah Saleh, brother of UAE martyr Adel Al Shehi, RAK, said they shall never ever forget his brother and all other martyred Emirati servicemen. "His three-year-old only daughter, who truly looks and acts like him, is being taken care of by us all."
But, what makes Saleh sad was that he would not be able to mark the occasion with his family and people back home. "I am currently receiving treatment in Munich."
Salem Al Ketbi, brother of UAE martyr Sultan bin Huwaiden, said though they were sad for losing his brother, they were all proud of his martyrdom which is a national wedding they have honoured to get. "The family of the martyr is surrounded with a halo of light due to the source of pride he left behind."
Latifa Al Gurg, an Emirati electrical engineer and designer, said Martyr's Day is a good way to honour the sacrifices and dedication of national martyrs. "It is a deep gratitude from the nation towards their legacies."
Abdullah Al Suri, an Emirati national, RAK, said commemoration day is an honour to everyone living on this land. "Such a celebration is the least thing we can do to remember those fallen soldiers who sacrificed their soul and blood defending their country." Those heroes were honourably killed while performing their national duty to protect the achievements of this country, he added. "They have set us a role model to follow, and learn the values of sacrifice and loyalty to the nation from," he said, thanking the UAE leadership for setting this day to recognise the Emirati martyrs.
Adban Ukasha, a Jordanian media man, said the UAE Martyrs Day has to be marked in all Arab and Islamic countries. "Those brave heroes were not only defending the UAE, but rather the entire region against the Iranian project of regional expansion which is meant to crumble any Arab development project."
Sherif Al Wakeel, an Egyptian contractor, said his six-member family is to participate in the Martyr's Day. "It is not only a national occasion; it is rather a day for each and every one here. We have all to honour the exceptional sacrifice of those brave martyrs."