12 Things you Should Know about Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Nigeria
By Kelvin Abuchi Ugwuoke
Today is the Armed Forces Remembrance Day. The following are what you need to know about the day:
1. In Nigeria, January 15 every year is celebrated as “Armed Forces Remembrance Day” or simply, “Armed Forces Day.”
2. It was formerly celebrated on 11 November of every year to coincide with the Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) for the World War II veterans in the British Commonwealth of Nations. But it was changed to 15 January in Nigeria in commemoration of the surrender of Biafran troops to the Federal troops on 15 January 1970, thus concluding the Nigerian Civil War that sought to tear apart the unity of Nigeria.
3. Every year, security chiefs, political leaders, members of the Nigerian legion, and other stakeholders gather at the cenotaph of the unknown soldier to lay wreath in honour of our fallen war veterans who lost their lives in battle.
4. A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been reinterred elsewhere. Most soldiers who die in war are buried in the warfront, hence the need for cenotaph. There are cenotaphs in every state including the FCT Abuja.
5. A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs, or various materials that is constructed to form a ring which is laid as a mark of honour to the unknown soldier on the cenotaph.
6. “Unknown soldier” is a figurative term for all war veterans who paid the supreme sacrifice to the peace and unity of the nation.
7. White pigeons are released at the event of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day to signify peace and unity in the Nation. Also customary gun salutes are performed by firing cannons or artillery as honour to the unknown soldier.
8. Prior to the celebration, the Federal and State governments launch the Armed Forces emblem which is worn in honour of the unknown soldier.
9. The emblem is used to raise funds and donations to support the families and dependents of the war veterans who lost their lives in the battlefield. All citizens of Nigeria are expected to contribute to the funds and also wear the emblem.
10. You are to wear the Armed Forces Remembrance emblem on your left hand pocket, that side where you attach your lanyard.
11. You are only expected to start wearing the emblem when the President (Abuja) or Governor (states) has launched it.
12. Once the wreath has been laid on the cenotaph of the unknown soldier on January 15 by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Abuja) or Governor (states), the emblem is considered expired and should not be worn anymore.
Kelvin Abuchi Ugwuoke
Superintendent of Corrections NCoS at the National headquarters, Abuja.
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