Commemoration Day – December 1, 2021

Commemoration Day (also known as Martyrs’ Day) is observed annually in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) on December 1. The day is set aside to remember, recognize and honor the sacrifices and patriotism of the Emirati martyrs who gave their lives to military, civil, and humanitarian work in the U.A.E. First commemorated in 2015, the day has been observed every year on November 30, until in 2019 when the date was changed to December 1.

History of Commemoration Day

Everyone wishes for a peaceful life; an untroubled society in which we can live the life we want, travel the world, fall in love, pursue a career, raise our children with love, and more. But the peace that is enjoyed in nearly all societies of the world today has been fought and won with the blood and sweat of various soldiers and civilians who sacrificed their lives at one time or another. Commemoration Day is such a day observed in the U.A.E. to remember the sacrifices of all Emirati Martyrs who gave their lives in service of their country.

Salem Bin Khamis Al Dahmani was the first Emirati policeman to die for the country, and the incident happened on November 30, 1971, just before the formation of the U.A.E. He was killed in an unpremeditated attack by Iranian Naval forces on an expedition into Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, following the departure of the British forces who recently ceded ownership of the protectorate.

In August 2015, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, announced November 30, the date of this valiant policeman’s death, as a holiday to commemorate the selfless service and sacrifice of all who had died in service of the country. The observance of November 30 as Commemoration Day was being maintained on the same date every year from 2015 through 2019 before the date was adjusted to December 1.

Commemoration Day is termed differently in different countries. Some countries call it Martyrs’ Day, Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, Decoration Day, or Veterans’ Day, but the idea behind it is all the same; remembering these iconic sacrifices.

Commemoration Day timeline

1857
Freedom Struggle Revolt

Mangal Pandey, an infantryman in the Bengal Native Infantry, becomes the first martyr of the freedom struggle revolt.

1868–1970
U.S. Memorial Day

A federal holiday is established to honor and grieve the U.S. military personnel who died while discharging their duties.

1916
Eid al-Suhad

May 6 becomes the day the Syrian Arab Republic remembers the execution of Syrian nationalists in Damascus.

1947
Burmese Martyrs’ Day

July 19 is created to honor nine Burmese independence leaders who were assassinated.

1948
Martyrs’ Day (Shaheed Diwas)

In India, January 30 is made a national holiday to remember Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated on this day in 1948.

Commemoration Day FAQs

Why is Commemoration Day important?

It is important because it honors the sacrifices of the martyred and helps us remember their heroic contribution to humanity.

Where is Commemoration Day celebrated?

Commemoration Day is celebrated in the U.A.E., but many countries around the world have a similar day during which they honor fallen soldiers. 

Is Martyrs’ Day a holiday in the U.A.E.?

Yes, it is a public holiday that is observed by both the private and government departments of the U.A.E.  

How to Observe Commemoration Day

  1. Pay tribute

    As the U.A.E. remembers the departed for their heroic acts, join in to pay tribute to the heroes of war who sacrificed their lives for peace in the land.

  2. Observe a one-minute silence

    Go out and join other residents in your neighborhood to honor the legacy of the martyrs by observing a minute of silence on December 30.

  3. Offer gifts

    Show some love to the family of the martyred by giving gifts and presents to the surviving members.

5 Facts About Military Commemoration Days

  1. The Poppy is the U.K.’s symbol of remembrance

    Remembrance Poppy pins and brooches are worn by British citizens to commemorate those who died for their country.

  2. Originally referred to as Armistice Day

    Commemoration Day was originally called “Armistice Day” in 1919 and honored the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on November 11, 1918.

  3. Many nations observe it

    Many nations of the world, including India, the U.A.E., the U.S., and China observe their own version of Commemoration Day.

  4. The U.S. calls it Veterans Day

    The United States used to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11; they later changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954.

  5. It’s a national holiday

    Since Commemoration Day is a national holiday in the U.A.E., all public and government offices are closed down and the national flag is kept lowered for three hours.

Why We Observe Commemoration Day

  1. To remember Emirati martyrs

    On this day, we give special honor and recognition to the Emirati martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the U.A.E. both home and abroad.

  2. To honor Salem Suhail bin Khamis

    Commemoration Day also honors this Emirati soldier who selflessly sacrificed his life for his country during the Great Tunb battle in 1971.

  3. To celebrate our living legends

    As a way of celebrating heroism and patriotism, the soldiers and peacekeepers are also celebrated for keeping the ties of peace of the country in place.

Commemoration Day dates

YearDateDay
2021December 1Wednesday
2022December 1Thursday
2023December 1Friday
2024December 1Sunday
2025December 1Monday

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