It is true that the UAE has lost precious lives recently — brave soldiers who were taking part in the Yemen liberation war — but the country today also commemorates the martyrdom of those who with their blood helped shape the destiny of this great nation in the early years of the Union.

Visiting a family of a martyr recently, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, put the national sentiment in perspective. The martyrs’ names, he said, “will be forever and proudly etched in the UAE’s history for generations to come. The martyrs will always be beacons of honour that light the path for future generations.”

From Salem Suhail Bin Khamis Al Dahmani, the patriotic officer who, on this day in 1971, refused the Iranian occupiers’ orders to lower the UAE flag as they invaded the island of Greater Tunb, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Saif Gobash in 1977 to the blood of brave soldiers spilled in Yemen, UAE martyrs tell a story of loyalty, patriotism and unconditional sacrifice.

They helped in the building of a nation that has become a success story in every sense of the word. The UAE certainly is an economic and development miracle that is recognised and emulated around the world. Today, it has also become an example of an active power in the region; a power that spares no effort in order to restore stability and security and spread prosperity in a neighbourhood engulfed by civil conflicts and plagued by underdevelopment.

And that is exactly why the UAE has decided to become a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The Arab coalition had no option but to defend the Yemeni people against the tyranny of a well-armed rogue militia which has taken over their country. Backed by foreign powers, mainly Iran, and allied with the powerful forces loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Al Houthi militias have posed a clear and present danger to the strategic security of the Gulf region.

The UAE, along with coalition partners, took the historic decision to answer the call of the Yemeni people and their legitimate government when the militias bombarded and invaded Yemeni cities in the north and south of that country.

The mission of the UAE Armed Forces was on the path of righteousness and justice, says His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

This country was founded on the solid principle laid out by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the other fathers of the Union that this country is part of the Arab nation. The UAE leadership believes in the solidarity of the Arab nation and the martyrs are the symbols of the UAE commitment to that principle.

They are also the symbols of “our pride and dignity as they sacrificed their lives and blood in performing their national duty to keep the UAE flag flying high. The UAE Armed Forces personnel will remain, as always, the nation’s first line of defence,” Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed put it eloquently.

Today, we salute the martyrs and share their families’ pride in having the names of those patriotic heroes immortalised in UAE history.