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Message from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago to the Nation on the Occasion of Republic Day 2011

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Republic of Trinidad & Tobago’s, Prime Minister the Hon Kamla Persad Bissessar message to the Nation on the Occasion of Republic Day 2011 – September 24 2011

My fellow citizens of Trinidad and Tobago:

We are on the threshold of an important juncture in our nation’s history. Trinidad and Tobago stands poised to make historic changes that will determine all that we dreamt we could be as a people.

This celebration of our 35th Anniversary as a Republic today comes against the background of momentous decisions made in national security and when the deep personal sacrifices required are being so readily offered by citizens in achieving the objectives of a more peaceful and safer society.

After intense consultations arising out of intelligence that revealed there existed a clear threat to national security, my Government took the formidable decision to announce a State of Emergency to protect the citizens of this country and safeguard the nation.

The immediate results since that decision have proven the sacrifice has been well worth it. The crisis which loomed was averted and our nation today is more peaceful and hopeful for a permanent solution to crime than it has been in nearly a decade.

We have an opportunity now to build on that start, to commit ourselves to contributing towards a more law abiding and regulated society, one in which there is respect for the rule of law and where the smallest of infractions are frowned upon.

This is a time for restoration of our society, for the timeless values of respect, honour, tolerance, integrity, compassion and lawfulness to become part of everyday life once more in Trinidad and Tobago.

Someone recounted a story to me recently in which a group of very young schoolchildren upon seeing a joint patrol in a shopping area greeted them with a loud “thank you” and expressed their gratitude for the service the soldiers and police officers were giving to their country. The patrol group beamed with pride and happily engaged the children in conversation. This heartwarming story is significant to me in that it describes the level of understanding even by the youngest among us. Our men in uniform must be saluted for their selfless service and sacrifice. Theirs is not an easy task yet they have gone about it with a level of professionalism and commitment that has earned the gratitude and pride of the nation they defend so well today.

There is a sense that we are all in this together, a commitment to make the sacrifice for the greater good of all of us. We must build upon this wave of nationalism, rallying together around the red, white and black.

We must never take the freedoms we enjoy for granted but to fight for their preservation. Our democracy has been threatened in the past but I will do everything in my power to ensure this never occurs again. So in this context, our 35th Anniversary as a Republic holds even greater significance as it becomes a time for us to cherish our hard fought freedoms and our nationhood.

We must recall what it means to be a patriot. We must remember the pride we feel whenever our small nation excels as we have so many times. Remember the tears of joy that flowed when we qualified for the FIFA World Cup Finals, or the day Brian Lara broke the world record on the cricket field, or the night of joyful pride when Wendy Fitzwillian was crowned Miss Universe or when V.S. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for Literature, or just everyday moments such as when we hear a steelpan played and we recall that this was an instrument that our nation gifted the world. There is such a collection of precious moments when we know what it means to be a citizen of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, so many feelings that flow when we see anywhere in the world the Red, White And Black flag unfurled.

And that is the spirit of nationalism which we honour, acknowledge and celebrate today.

And in that recognition may each of us take up our individual civic responsibility to become part of the change we ask for in our society. None of us is without a role, none without a part to play. Engage in a meaningful role, whatever it may be, helping a neighbor, offering a word of comfort, sharing a meal with someone less fortunate, being your brother’s keeper, giving of some time to a child who needs your loving presence, in some way make that contribution towards the country you love and that gives us all so much.

I wish to announce today that the government will be introducing a programme called Parade of Patriots, an acknowledgement of people from all walks of life who in all kinds of everyday ways demonstrate what it truly means to be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.

Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago will be nominated by members of the public for the life they live in contribution to a better society in simple ways that make a huge difference to the world around them. Each quarter these nominees will be featured and honoured for their contributions. It can be as simple as someone who is well acknowledged for being a dedicated teacher to students over a long period of time or a tailor whose fine skills have been well recognized for generations or someone whose small acts of selflessness have changed the lives of others around.

Parade of Patriots will serve as an example to the entire nation of the life changing principles through which we should all follow. The identified patriots will be taken into schools as well so that the ideals they espouse may become generational.

A strong nation rests on such a rock of responsibility. A society rooted in responsibility will always do what is right over what is easy.

Let us now resolve to work together to take back our streets, to take back our communities, to take back our Country.

As we celebrate our 35th Anniversary as a Republic, let us unite in the hope of creating a brighter future in our twin-island Republic. This is indeed our finest hour and may we so honour it.

On behalf of my Government, I wish to all citizens a wonderful, safe and Happy Republic Day.

The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago

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