Veterans gather to pay tribute to those who “served our country”.

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The 30th national gathering to pay tribute to war veterans will take place on Portugal Day, Saturday, in Lisbon, to remember all the servicemen and women who have served the country, at a ceremony during which a message from the President of the Republic will be read.

The gathering will take place near the Monument to Overseas Combatants, in Belém, and aims to bring together all citizens who wish to “celebrate Portugal and pay tribute” to the soldiers who were “called to serve their country”.

Speaking to Lusa, the Secretary of the Executive Commission of this year’s National Tribute to Combatants, Colonel José Evaristo, said that the meeting was organized by a “civil society organization”, which aims to pay tribute “to all those who fought for Portugal: in the overseas territories and elsewhere, including India”, without distinction of “political colors or religions”.

According to the colonel, several associations “from all over the country” will be represented at the ceremony.

He detailed the program for the meeting, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a mass in the Santa Maria church of the Jerónimos monastery, “for Portugal and in suffrage of the combatants who fell for their homeland”, celebrated by the bishop of the armed and security forces, Mgr Rui Manuel Sousa Valério.

The ceremony will begin at 12.15pm near the Monument to Overseas Combatants, at the Forte do Bom Sucesso, in Belém, with an opening speech by the President of the Executive Committee, Vice-Admiral António Duarte, followed by the reading of a message sent by the President of the Republic and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

The meeting will also include an interfaith ceremony – Catholic and Muslim – said Colonel José Evaristo, followed by a tribute to the dead, with the laying of flowers.

The national anthem will be sung by the Casa Pia de Lisboa children’s choir and performed by the National Republican Guard (GNR) orchestra, while a navy ship will carry out a salute of honor.

The end of the ceremony will be marked by the passage of air force aircraft and, immediately after the meeting, there will be a convivial lunch, “offered by the navy”, said the colonel.

Stressing that the organization “does not take part in demonstrations and has no political objectives”, he insisted that “the fundamental objective is to pay tribute to all those who fought for Portugal” and that “some, many of them, stayed”.

The colonel recalled the reunions of previous years, saying that many veterans “now come with their grandchildren, and that’s something very moving”.

Government wishes to revise the Military Service Law and establish rental assistance for young service members.

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