— August 24 Flag Day Orator asserts
The Orator of this year's National Flag Day celebration, Dr. Laurence Konmla Bropleh, says Liberia’s path to development, national growth, and transformation is irreversible.
Bropleh said the path to the inclusion of all in the decision-making process of Liberia, the path to availing the country to friendly partners and other nations and investors for economic and infrastructural growth is irreversible.
Bropleh said Liberians must remain on an irreversible path of respecting the rule of law and allowing the justice system to work independently for everyone, regardless of their social or political opinions, connections, alignment, and differences.
“The path to unhindered human capital development, the path to freedom of thought, association, speech, and religious tolerance, are irreversible paths,” Bropleh said at the program marking the 175th National Flag Day celebration held at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia.
Bropleh said as Liberians celebrate their 175th Flag Day, they should remember that the flag represents an idea; not just a mere piece of cloth that is intended for decoration.
According to him, if Liberians allow for political decisions, religious differences, and other disagreements to continue to pull us apart rather than unite us, the consequences will be a broken society.
“If we allow disunity to put us against each other, rather than embrace one another, the consequences would be the lack of development, economic growth, education, quality healthcare, and prosperity for ourselves and our posterity,” he said.
Bropleh said no matter our tribe, our religion, political party, age, education, and class, we belong to one nation and we pay allegiance to one Flag, the Red, White, and Blue national ensign.
“We can’t afford to reverse the gains we have made since the end of our two civil wars that only brought prolonged suffering, increased the level of illiteracy, poverty, and disease in the society, and caused thousands of lives and properties worth millions of dollars to be destroyed and, in some cases, looted and vandalized,” he said.
He said the Flag must be seen as symbolistic and symbiotic as it ties and binds us together, Liberians. This year's observance is held under the theme: “The Lone Star, A Symbol of Unity and National Development.”
“As a people who have chosen a free land as a more ideal place to preserve our liberty, freedom, and happiness, our Flag must always remind us of the great sacrifices our forefathers and mothers made to settle here and lay a solid foundation of unity, love, and patriotism that must reign endlessly throughout our land for generations to come,” Bropleh said.
This tells us how significant our Flag is to us as a nation; it is the true representation of a country and its people — regardless of their political, religious, cultural and social diversities, Bropleh said.
He said as Liberians, a people united by a singular goal of seeking to live as a free and independent people from the humiliating bondage of slavery, torture and abuse, we only remind ourselves that it’s only through unity, patriotism, love and co-existence that we can keep the light of freedom shining on the African continent.
Bropleh said this was the true essence of the enormous sacrifices that Liberia’s founding fathers and mothers made when they risked their lives through the Atlantic and daringly chose a path of return to their ancestral homeland in Africa.
He said they chose to find a place — free of slavery and inhumane bondage — now called Liberia, where after many years of work, they would raise the Red, White and Blue Flag with a white star in its canton (filed), representing the first independent state in Africa after suffering hundreds of years of slavery in the Americas.
Bropleh said the returnees and the indigenous, after uniting and inhabiting this land for over 200 years as one people, and one nation, must not be seen again in this 21st century, tearing each other apart, and fighting against each other in a way that only sets the stage to bring our country down on the basis of our political differences.
He noted that true thrust of the flag is symbolistic and symbiotic – mutualism, commensalism, understanding that as a national symbol we find a sense of belonging, inextricably tied together in order to meet the foe, with valor unpretending, for what affects Grand Gedeh, affects Grand Bassa.
Bropleh continued: “what affects Cape Mount affects the people of Cape Palmas; what affects Nimba, affects Lofa; what affects River Gee affects Rivercess; what affects Gbarpolu affects Sinoe; what affects Bomi affects Bong; what affects Margibi affects Grand Kru, and what affects all 14 counties, deeply impacts Montserrado County.”
He called on Liberians to strive to peaceably move Liberia forward and not backward, upward and not downward, by the things we do and say about the nation and each other.
Literally on a daily basis, he said, Liberians pledge allegiance to one Flag and to the nation for which it stands, and cannot do this just for formality.
“When we do it, let’s reflect deeply on how far we have come and where we ought to be as Africa’s first independent country. See it as symbolistic and symbiotic, for we must feed positively of each other, not for ourselves, but for our ONE Flag and ONE nation, Liberia,” he urged Liberians.
“Let us handle our Flag with great respect, for when we do that, we will handle Liberians with respect and our Nation as well. We must at all times seek the oneness of our nation.”
Broleh said in 15 months, Liberia will hold General and Presidential elections and it is no secret that there will be bitter exchanges of words (not blows) during the period of campaigning. Elections will be held, the votes counted and winners announced — all of this while, as a people, Liberians must be cognizant of the imperatives of keeping the peace.
President George M. Weah, in his remarks, said the Lone Star is the visible evidence of the country's sovereignty and a symbol of pride and dignity within the comity of nations.
"Our veritable stamp on the map of the world unifies every Liberian, both at home and in the Diaspora, presenting us as One People — regardless of our regions, religious beliefs, political affiliation, or ethnicity," Weah said.
Weah said as a people, Liberians have endured nearly a decade and a half of civil conflict, which not only took away the lives of over 250,000 Liberians but also tore the fabric of our society apart and subverted significant tenets of our culture.
"We can be proud of ourselves as a country. Despite all the turbulence and disruption we have endured in our quest for a better standard of life, we can still stand firm as a nation and say we are ready to claim the future and see Liberia rise again. I say, love your flag and country, for this is the way to national peace and unity," the Liberian leader said.