This year’s national Flag Day celebrations in Monrovia and the rest of the country brought profound memories of what this sacred event used to be prior to the civil crisis, instilling into students the spirit of nationalism and love for country.
The flag of the Republic of Liberia is one of those emblems or symbols that identify the state and its people. Another important national identity is the Seal. Friday’s August 24, 2012 Flag Day was the 165th anniversary of the flag of Liberia, was designed by 11 women under the leadership of Susana Lewis, some of the forebears of the land.
Despite the unfavorable weather, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, was present in front of the Centennial Pavilion on Ashmun Street, central Monrovia to receive the salutes or I-rights from the students. Twenty-five of the 30 senior high schools invited for the celebration honored the occasion.
A noticeable departure of this year’s celebration from previous ones, particularly in recent years was the presence of some members of the cabinet and the Legislature to demonstrate the level of national value we attach to the flag. The presence of Defense Minister Brownie Samukai; Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan and Representative Munah Pennon, among others provided additional inspiration to the occasion.
The observance of this day should not be left entirely with students, particularly so when a change in the national academic calendar has made the event to be celebrated after schools are closed, and students and school authorities are vacationing.
Our national leaders should give due attention to this historically annual event by coming out in full to watch the talents of our students as they prepare to take up leadership. We welcome the government’s re-introduction of awarding any three schools that will display excellent drill skills, discipline and dress code during the ceremony, which serve as a motivation for the participants.
Prior to the civil conflict, Flag Day was celebrated during school period, which provided the opportunity for more students to participate from each school. It is from such exercises we are able to identify talents for our security apparatus to nurture them through scholarships that would enable them to join national service upon graduation.
The essence of this important celebration would not be achieved if we treat it as a mere holiday to stay home and send few students out to do whatever they wish without accompanying them to give them the encouragement they need and deserve.