NEW YORK, May 29 (UPI) -- The International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers, held annually since 2002, was observed on Thursday.
It is a day, the U.N. said, intended "to honour the memory of the U.N. peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace; to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage."
In recent years, the U.N. has selected a theme to promote the day. For 2014, the theme is "A Force for Peace, a Force for Change, a Force for the Future."
Since the peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, more than 3,200 military, police, and civilian personnel have died in the line of duty from violence, accidents, and disease.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized their service on Thursday by laying a wreath in honor of "those who died in this selfless service."
The day is also recognized at the U.N. with the posthumous presentation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to peacekeepers who died in the line of duty during the preceding year.
In the field, U.N. peacekeeping operations observe the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers by engaging the local communities where they are deployed.