Faith in Diversity of T&T – President’s Independent Message

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See Independence 2023 message of President Christine Kangaloo below:

Fellow citizens,

On 31 August 1962, the people of Trinidad and Tobago made the courageous decision to break with centuries of colonial rule and, with boundless faith in our destiny, to take full control of our affairs and our future.

Many citizens – particularly those who were in their teens or adulthood then – can still vividly recall the excitement, optimism and hope that suffused the atmosphere on that very first Independence Day.

The red, white and black of our national flag flew proudly in the forecourt of the Red House for the very first time, as our newly-minted national anthem played and, in as happy and fortuitous a development as can be imagined, our national flower came into bloom – some might say, at just the perfect time.

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Our Premier-turned-Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams, later addressed the nation and proclaimed, “You are on your own in a big world, in which you are one of many nations, some small, some medium size, some large. You are nobody’s boss and nobody is your boss.”

His words foreshadowed the thrilling yet daunting journey of self-discovery and self-determination upon which our nation had embarked. We were a nation new, tasked with the solemn responsibility of carving a place for ourselves in the world and forging for ourselves our own unique national identity, philosophy and aspirations.

Sixty-one years later, the anniversary of our independence provides us with yet another opportunity to reflect on how well we have lived up to that responsibility.

The last 61 years have brought with them successes and challenges in equal measure.

We have enjoyed highs and suffered lows; we have achieved laudable goals and found ourselves marooned upon woeful milestones.

For example, we have distinguished ourselves on the world stage in sport, the creative arts, literature, fashion, business and entertainment and other fields. Recently, our national instrument, the steel pan, gained even more international acclaim when the United Nations’ General Assembly, acknowledging that the steel pan promotes inclusive societies, sustainable communities and the creative economy and can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being, gender equality and youth empowerment, proclaimed August 11 as World Steel Pan Day.

We have produced many outstanding sons and daughters of the soil who have selflessly given of their time, effort and achievements for the development and progress of our country. We have advanced significantly in our independence experiment, gaining republican status in 1976.

On the other hand, we have had to grapple with serious and multi-faceted social and economic issues, many of which today present enormous challenges to the national well-being. In the face of these challenges, our responsibility as citizens is to dig deep – to draw from the well of our nation’s indubitable successes and turn disaster into triumph.

Independence has made us collectively and individually responsible for managing our affairs and determining our future. No one but us can right our wrongs or remedy our problems. It is we who must take responsibility for ourselves and for nation-building. It is we who must acknowledge when and where we go wrong, arrive at a consensus on how to forge ahead and take responsibility for the consequences of our decisions and our actions. It is we who must do the necessary work to build a society of which we can all be proud and glad.   This is what being an independent nation, means.

We are a beautiful people, brimming with creativity, patriotism and resolve. Like all human beings, we are also a flawed people – for none of us is perfect. Independence is the continuous challenge to raise our innate goodness above our human imperfections; to create and to celebrate new successes, as we rise above the old failures of our past.

I have full faith in our resourcefulness, the strength of our diversity and the goodness of our citizenry. I have full confidence that we will rise, each and every day, to the challenge of our Independence. And I have full confidence that we will ultimately defeat all that threatens to deprive us of that bright and glorious future of which we dreamed, and to which we committed ourselves, 61 years ago. I know that in the not-too-distant future, we will triumph over all adversity and bridge the gaps which currently divide us.

On this 61st anniversary of our birth, I wish every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago a happy and blessed Independence.

May God bless our nation.


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