INDEPENDENCE is a work in progress that depends on the input of every citizen, said President Paula-Mae Weekes in her Independence Day message.
She mulled the notion of Independence, asking whether TT is truly independent and said citizens must help in this ongoing development.
“Fellow citizens, on 31 August 1962, TT shook off the reins of colonialism and dared to go it alone. To the tolling of bells, the Union Jack was lowered for the final time and the red, white and black hoisted to signal the birth of our nation.”
She recalled Dr Eric Williams, TT’s first prime minister, urging citizens always to place the national interest first, and spelling out the realities of independence.
The President quoted Williams as saying, “You are on your own in a big world. You are nobody’s boss, and nobody is your boss.” She opined that the right of the country to determine its own future had been an exhilarating, if somewhat daunting prospect.
“Since then, TT has enjoyed a relatively stable democracy, significant economic transformation and general improvement in the quality of life of its citizens.”
However, considering the current challenges of crime and the economy, plus TT’s subjection to the Privy Council, the world economy and global climate change, she asked how independent the country was.
“Political separation from the United Kingdom was only the first step of our long journey of self-discovery.
“Independence has never been a static notion. It implies the constant working-out of identity and purpose, sovereignty over one’s decisions and taking responsibility for one’s actions.”
Weekes said when those decisions bear good fruit, people may pat themselves on the back, but when they go wrong, as they often do, they must not blame others. People’s attitudes and how they view their roles as citizens must be firmly aligned to the needs of the country, which now seem more demanding than ever, the President said.
She said the journey to maturity needs the country to be united by a common goal and by agreement on how to achieve it. Weekes urged all to aspire and achieve together, press forward into the future, and incorporate into their daily lives the choice watchwords: discipline, production and tolerance.
“I wish the national community a safe, happy and enjoyable Independence Day.”