This moment of great celebration in Trinidad and Tobago characterises a Nation’s survival, self-sustainability, sovereignty and genuine pride. For 55 years, we have flourished and generated the strength and power that are required for a country’s fortitude, progression and successful continuity. This is a moment for all citizens of this great Nation to feel proud of our collective achievements and of our contributions on the international stage. These accolades have been attained, because of you citizens- who toil in the trenches in various sectors of our economy and national life- and who contribute, invaluably, to the progressive development of Trinidad and Tobago.
Amidst the numerous trials and adversities we face on a daily basis, individually and collectively, we must spread messages of love, peace, mediation, compassion and inspiration. This is not to say that our national issues should be forgone but we must engage a national dialogue that is solution-oriented, not blame- stating and is inclusive of all demographics in our society. While progress should be celebrated, missteps should also be addressed in a more holistic, transformational environment in this country of ours. For this to be accomplished, we must culture genuine appreciation and regard for the art of disagreement. Yes, there is such a thing as the art of disagreement, where differences of opinion are shared in an environment of mutual respect and objectivity. We are after all, a callaloo of cultures and strive forward, we must- together as a united and inclusive Nation.
Trinbagonians, let us forge a better future for ourselves and our children. Let every man, woman and child envision his/her best self, conscientiously devoting themselves to betterment and making appropriate use of the many available resources that are made possible by our hard-working citizens and successive governments. Let us be proactive rather than reactive. Let us be responsive rather than explosive and belligerent and let us become a Nation of critical, objective and informed thinkers with due regard and respect for the highest standards of morality and integrity. Indeed, it ought to be the concern of every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago that we are not only free, but we contribute to Nation-building in any and ALL forms, in order to ensure our continued state of freedom and self-sustainability.
As we are in a celebratory mood, I wish to once again publicly commend our athletes and gold medalists, Paralympian Akeem Stewart and our World Athletics Championship 4x 400 meters relay team, Machel Cedenio, Lalonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon, Jareem Richards and not forgetting the 5th man, Renny Quow- for they have all provided much needed light and inspiration to our rich Trinbagonian tapestry. In the spirit of regionalism, I wish to also commend the West Indies Cricket Team who won their test match against England, against all odds, in a convincing manner, a few days ago. We shall continue to rally round the West Indies as much as we shall continue to forge and reach greater Trinbagonian heights in every facet of our individual and National lives.
As Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, I wish to commend the different formations on their spectacular displays this morning. Ladies and gentlemen, our military men and women, continue to keep alive these important Independence Day celebrations and for that, they deserve our highest regard and respect. Independence Day observations and celebrations serve as a reminder to all, that the road to independence, was a long and arduous one and we must acknowledge and celebrate its attainment. We must use this celebration as a forum to teach and inform our children of where they came from and the struggles endured to afford them this freedom and lifestyle that they now enjoy. This morning at the Military Parade, we heard the bands belt out the sweet sounds of Ras Shorty I, “Watch out my Children”- and these few words from his song remind us of how precious our Nation’s children are to its future progress:
“Walk cautiously, children be alert…
Sober thinking leads on to righteousness
And happiness, spiritual bliss- so let me tell you this
Watch out my children, Watch out my children.”
Today, we are 55 years STRONG. We have thrived and our vitality and vibrancy are ever present. God has blessed our Nation. Yes, God has not been deported, neither has He migrated. He blessed this Nation amidst calamity and we are able to stand, persevere and be resilient as a result. The human edifice in Trinidad and Tobago must never be allowed to diminish in the face of structural or economic challenges. It is time that we snatch and optimize the resources and niches that our position as a Caribbean island affords us. As global citizens, we must contribute to that global thrust and become active advocates and devise implementable solutions on issues of climate change and environmental degradation and we must destroy this myth of implementation deficit that seems to characterize the thrust of the Caribbean Region.
We must honour and celebrate our women and young girls recognizing their innate capacity to foster real, transformation in this society. Gender equality, equity and parity must continue to be core philosophies of every man and woman as genuine collaboration between both demographics – and of course, OUR CHILDREN- will propel this Nation forward.
Diversification of our economy is where our unseen profit lies. As a parent sacrifices for a child, so too we must sacrifice at present so that Generation Next can enjoy a Trinidad and Tobago that is sustainable. In this island of intelligent, competent and vibrant people, investment in our most important resource- our human capital is paramount -for we are great people, with great ideas of international repute and calibre.
Individually and collectively, in our lives, there must be a bloodless revolution- a revolution of the mind, the heart and the soul- that will spread the doctrine of caring for each other; forgiveness; mercy; mutual respect and compassion.
Let us pray that our society will reach its optimum potential. As a proud citizen of this great Republic and as your President, I have every confidence that this beautiful country of ours will continue to reach its highest heights. As we celebrate and revel in this 55th year of Independence, remember always that we are Trini to de bone and embrace our ‘Caribbeaness’ as we are proud Caribbean people!
It gives me great pleasure to ask all of you here to sing our National anthem. It may engage a small breach of protocol but I invite you to sing the best national anthem in the world.
It is indeed my esteemed and humble pleasure, to ask each and every one of you to raise your glasses as we toast to the health, blessing, the regeneration, the rejuvenation and to everything great and wonderful for this beautiful Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Happy Independence Day Trinidad and Tobago and may God continue to bless our great Nation.