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We Pledge to Be Good Citizens with One Purpose, One Nation, One Vision

Patriotic feelings and independence anniversary celebrations generally go hand in hand. From 1981 to present there has always been an explosion in the display of national symbols, a surge in the singing of patriotic songs and, more than any other time, a collective remembrance that ‘ah yah me barn’.  From the youngest to the oldest we are imbued with that sense of unity and belief in us, our food, our culture, our style, our Antiguan and Barbudan spirit.

We become inspired by the lyrics of the scores of songs which form part of the spirit of the celebrations. Some of the most powerful song lyrics ‘we thy sons and daughters stand strong and firm in peace or danger to safeguard our native land’ from the National Anthem and ‘we pledge to be good citizens, our country then will be not just a society, but a just society’ from King Short Shirt’s Pledge provide examples of the lyrical fervour that inspires us as citizens and residents.

Unfortunately, for many of us the patriotic spirit ebbs soon after the season concludes almost as if patriotism too is seasonal; to be dusted off for special occasions and then retired until another occasion calls for its use.  

Safeguarding our nation in peace or danger is not a part time job. Working to create not just a society is not an occasional endeavour.  

Our 39th anniversary theme is ‘One Purpose, One Nation, One Vision’.  Some may question the practicality of the theme in our highly polarised socio-political environment. Is there room in Antigua and Barbuda today for such a clarion call?  With the many challenges before us, and the very strong discord in many facets of our daily activities to our long term development planning, is there room for uniting in a single purpose.?

Love for country, regardless of other affiliations must be the primary driver of pursuits.  We are fortunate to have a melting pot of ethnicities, income disparity, religious persuasions all existing in relative harmony cross our nation.  Our crime levels and other hallmarks normally associated with a failed state or nations in crisis are in check.  In fact, had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to conclude that our nation would have been in the final quarter of one of its best years since political independence.

Love for country, either as citizen or resident, must prompt us to wear our good citizen banner 365 days a year.  Love for country must inspire the one vision, even if there may be disagreements on the path to fulfilling that vision.  Love for country will drive the purpose to ensure that we build, and leave behind, a better Antigua and Barbuda for future generations.  Love of country will ensure that no political leader’s desire to win comes at the cost of the nation’s demise.

This, our 39th year of political independence puts us on the cusp of real nation adulting. The saying life begins at 40 years seems applicable here.  This is our final year to set aside things that are not in the national interest.  As citizens and residents we must appreciate that this level of maturity makes past mistakes intolerable. Our maturity demands that we take the lessons of the years past and seek to lay the path best suited to our national economic development.  On that foundation we can then forge stronger communities tasked with supporting our youth and taking care of the elderly; our two most vulnerable population segments.

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Even in the face of a politicised environment, there is still room for one nation where the people appreciate and understand the value of teamwork. 

To borrow from Calypso Joe, ‘a house divided against itself must fall’ and falling is not an option for Antigua and Barbuda.  

We will therefore ‘Gird our loins and join the battle’ to keep the patriotic fire burning all year round.  It will temper many of the larger polarised battles that could keep us from fulfilling our 39th independence anniversary theme.  

True patriots will have no challenge answering the pledge to be good citizens with one purpose, one nation, one vision.

 

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