Portugal solemnly marks national day

“Portugal Day,” the national day of Portugal, was marked all over the country in a serene emotional atmosphere as some citizens are still mourning the loss of loved ones to COVID-19 while looking into the future with optimism about return to “normal life.”

The day commemorates the death of the Portuguese poet Luis Vaz de Camoes, a significant figure in the country’s history, in 1580.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa chose to hold a “small and symbolic” ceremony with only six guests at the Jeronimos Monastery, cancelling several other traditional activities, including outside the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Portugal cannot pretend that there is no pandemic and brutal financial crisis. This day is the exact moment to wake up and see that yesterday’s solutions are not tomorrow’s,” he said in a speech.

The president also honoured his country’s health professionals, announcing that he will grant them the “symbolic insignia of the Order of Merit.”

“We come together to honour the health heroes in Portugal. Not being able to symbolically award all of them, I chose those who treated the first patient with COVID-19,” said Rebelo de Sousa.

The president also thanked all his fellow citizens for the “sacrifices demanded by the pandemic, especially from the patriots spread all over the world, away from family and friends, who were unable to return home.”

“It was a different June 10, we can’t meet in person, touch and hug, but we do it from a distance. Portugal is a unique case in the world,” he said.

The president also laid a wreath on the tomb of Camoes, whose day of death also marks the “Day of the Portuguese Communities and the Armed Forces.”

Sousa paid tribute to those killed in combat at the Church of Santa Maria de Belem, with Prime Minister Antonio Costa at his side.

All over the world, several “virtual events” were also held to mark “Portugal Day.”