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Let us set examples of patriotism and love

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Next Tuesday, our still-young nation celebrates its 36th anniversary of Independence. It is an occasion which is much revered and respected in many countries which reclaimed their independence in the last half century, including many in the Caribbean.

For some reason, the Vincentian record, in this regard, has not been consistent. There are years when the spirit of patriotism seems to flow through our veins, but others when some of us, especially our older citizens, do not appear to be so proud of our Independence.{{more}}

Much of this has to do with the partisan manner in which we entered Independence, our failure to arrive at consensus even up to today on such unifying symbols as national anthem, flag, dress or a recognized national dish.

It is encouraging to note however, the enthusiasm with which our citizens, born post-1979, embrace the national colours, using their creativity in the design of Independence outfits and hairstyles which they have been proudly modelling all week on the streets of Kingstown. Our younger performing artistes too are following on from where Alban Henry, Patrick Prescod, Alston ‘Becket’ Cyrus and Kenneth ‘Vibrating Scakes’ Alleyne began with the composition of patriotic songs that have today become anthems of our nationhood.

This year, the nation has been given a special birthday present by our cultural ambassador Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle with the release of the music video for his hit song ‘This Island is Mine’. Set to be released today, the high quality video, from all accounts, is a must see and has been hailed as an invaluable tourism marketing tool for our multi-island state.

Mention must be made too of the brilliant innovation that is the biennial National Heritage Parade, which was introduced some eight years ago by the Girls’ High School. This year’s parade took place on Tuesday this week and again, wonderfully set the tone for the week of celebrations leading up to Independence Day. The organizers and their sponsors must again be thanked and commended for their vision and the creative manner in which they skillfully blend our history, culture, performing arts, youth and the elderly, all into one wonderful package. This event should be an annual one, but of course, this would be dependent on the ability of the organizers to attract the necessary sponsorship.

Of course, this Independence, we run the danger of partisanship being put before the national interests, for we are fully into campaigning for national elections. As the political temperature rises, there will be the temptation to relegate our national birthday celebrations to second place behind our narrow party interests.

For what it is worth, we would like to make an appeal to our political parties, and the nation as a whole, to resist such temptation and to put our country first, as we build up this weekend to the Big Day.

Would it be possible for us to make a conscious effort to avoid statements and actions which have the effect of dividing our people over the next few days? Would it be possible for us to stay away from derogatory comments, displays of personal or political hostility? Above all, could we put a pause on ‘bad mouthing’ our country or its people, even if only for the next few days? Let us show respect for one another and our country on this special occasion.

Let us have our fun and entertainment in a positive atmosphere, so that our children can grow up to appreciate that Independence is not just another holiday, but central to our existence as a nation. Let us set examples of patriotism and love for our country. We are all Vincentian brothers and sisters, part of one nation. Yes, we have differences, as any family has. Independence reminds us of this fact and should inspire us to do what we can to honour our nation. Is that too much to ask of us all?

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