PATRIOTISM: Speech delivered at UB Patriotic Day Print E-mail
( 5 Votes )
Written by Inez Sanchez   
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 00:00

Inez SanchezWednesday, September 12, 2012

Three decades plus one year of Independence will be celebrated by Belizeans on the 21st. Today, I am celebrating eight decades of life on this planet. I thank God and ask for another hundred years. Perhaps, my age gives me the privilege to discuss this morning, one aspect of our celebration:

Eric Thompson, the archaeologist, once wrote that a people do not become a nation until it has discovered its soul. In 1973, in an address to teachers at San Ignacio, I maintained that at that time Belizeans had not found their soul as a nation but that they were searching for it. Thirty nine years after that address and thirty one years of Independence, many Belizeans are still searching for their nation’s soul – Patriotism.

Patriotism has been defined as an undying love for one’s country. Love of country for which one is prepared to die for if need be. Nowadays, we prefer to define patriotism as love of country for which one lives for and works for.

When I asked one or two students if UB was developing patriotism in them, they readily replied “No”. As usual this was the easy way out; blame somebody else. For me, the big question is: who should nurture patriotism in our people? Patriotism should be developed internally by every individual. Do not expect others to do it for you. Nurture love of country in yourself, by yourself and for yourself. That would be true patriotism.

Patriotism is not necessarily shown in daring deeds or in sacrificing one’s life. That is a rush of adrenalin. Patriotism should be manifested in small ways every day of our lives.
Let us examine how we show our patriotism towards our national flag and anthem.

Love of our flag
Our flag embodies the nation. Our flag represents all of us; our flag is our national symbol. We show our patriotism by honoring our flag; but what is our attitude to our flag? Barely any respect is shown when the flag is raised or lowered. In other countries when their flag is raised or lowered, people present, stop what they are doing, stand respectfully at attention and take off their hats. On the other hand, many Belizeans keep talking, moving about and totally disrespecting our flag. No sign of patriotism. Our flag should be raised in the morning and lowered in the evening; but look at what is happening in many schools and other public places. The flag is raised, left on the pole day and night, rain or shine and only lowered when the flag is torn and tattered beyond recognition. Another display of lack of patriotism to our flag is the use of desecrated flags. Our official national flag displays a black man and a brown man to symbolize the presence of unity of all the ethnic groups in Belize. Look at the flag we display in public and private places. The brown man is depicted as a yellow man. This is desecration of our flag; yet we happily use and fly such flags. This shows total lack of patriotism and I would say borders on treason. People who make such desecrated flags, businesses who sell such flags and people who buy and display such flags should be jailed for life.

Belizeans, how can we allow the raising of such flags? Have we no sense of patriotic love?

Love of our Anthem
Need I say that the same disrespect shown to our flag is also meted out when our National Anthem is played or sang? Many do not even stand at attention. Such lack of patriotism is incomprehensible after 31 years of Independence. Regarding our national anthem it is even worse. One or two composers and musical groups have made a parody of the anthem by rendering it in a different tune or rhythm. The National Anthem is sacrosanct and should not be bastardized in any form or manner. Belizeans should protest any parody of the Anthem. You are right, any one or group who desecrates the Anthem should be jailed for life.

In conclusion, let me say that little things make up patriotism but patriotism is not a little thing. Therefore, we should nurture our patriotism in every little way so that our love of country may bloom eventually.

Allow me to close by speaking directly to students nationwide. Only 5% of your age group in Belize is attending university. You are the chosen ones; you are the privileged ones; you are the cream of the crop, the . Crème de la crème. But wait, the good book states: “To whom more is given, more will be expected.” Therefore, the nation has a right to expect more from you. Lead the charge. Nurture patriotism in yourselves first then display patriotic love in everyday life.
Thank you!