Simply Thinking Thoughts
You will agree with me that this Lone Star Banner has passed through very turbulent and tumultuous times and changes in Liberian history, and hence deserves to be celebrated more appropriately as the reverent national symbol it stands for. From the time the first dark-skinned President of Liberia, E. J. Roye, allegedly attempted to skedaddle or run away, and drowned, to the time the Colemans allegedly resisted arrest and got killed, the Lone Star still waved gracefully. From President Barclay’s Fernando Po human trafficking scandal to Tubman’s 24 years of unproductive rule; from comrade Albert Porte’s incessant advocacy to Baccus Matthews’ April 14, 1979 Rice Riot; from President Tolbert’s “Total Reliance” to Samuel Doe’s ruthless military coup; Emmett Harmon’s tenure as Elections Commissioner to Samuel Doe’s controversial elections victory over Jackson F. Doe; and Ellen Johnson’s resignation from the Senate, the Lone Star Banner still waved. From Charles Taylor’s civil war to the advent of LURD rebels, of course, the Lone Star still gracefully waved. The Lone Star Banner has floated in recent time as well. From the time President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared zero tolerance for corruption as public enemy number one and as a bloody doggone blood sucking vampire to the collapse of the messy education system in Liberia, the Lone Star still continues to wave, and gracefully too, though.
But while we were busy acclimatizing with the vicissitudes and changes of history, there was always one symbol that neither changed nor lost its identity: the Flag of Liberia, the Lone Star. I remember as a Red Cross Field Officer commuting between Dr. Amos Sawyer’s IGNU of Liberia and Charles Taylor’s Greater Liberia, one thing I always saw unchanged was our flag, the Lone Star. Both leaders and their believers gave equal obeisance to the Lone Star, revered it equally, and saluted it with the same passion and edifications of soul although they behaved as foreigners in two different countries with two different presidents, but with the same Lone Star Banner. During the time of this nonsensical divide, and the five-president government, each time the Lone Star soccer team played, we all would rise and sing with all the passions in our souls, our patriotic song, “The Lone Star Forever,” as we faced a flag, a symbol and a mantra that has never changed nor waivered in spite of our dunces and foibles, but remained majestically perched and waving gracefully like a mother on a balcony meticulously watching over her mischievous children wrestle one another over legacy.
Each time the Lone Star flag was hoisted, it did not matter any longer whether one was Special Forces Commando, ULIMO-K & J, NPFL rebel, Lofa Defense Force rebel, Prince Johnson Fighter, or any of the bellicose factions, as all of us stood in obeisance to our banner in one accord. What a beautiful and serene situation that was to behold.
The Lost Pageantry, Pomp and Reverence
These days, it appears like the once revered Lone Star has lost relevance. These days, attendance at Flag Day celebration programs has become voluntary and no more officially nor patriotically compulsory; the pomp and pageantry which bridled Flag Day has grossly diminished; government officials rather take a day off counting their blessings from their exploits as they lay in their comfortable couches at home, rather than attend a dull, lopsided lukewarm Flag Day program. You see, back in the day, August 24th was a memorable time for almost all Liberians including students, the military and civil servants. As a member of the St. Thomas Episcopal Boy Scouts Troop, each year I anticipated competition among fellow scouters; the best dressed and the one that demonstrated more pranks; we also watched out for how many schools missed the “eyes right salute” at the BTC or the Executive Mansion.
On Flag Day, as my highly respected Tubman High school led all of the schools, we would march from the Centennial Pavilion, through the principal streets up to the Executive Mansion smartly dressed. During the parade, we would pause before huge crowds to allow our special units and majorettes demonstrate all the values they embodied by the intricate dance steps, and drill maneuvers. School boys being boys, we looked forward to Flag Day because it placed into our arms, our little girlfriends whose parents never allowed them out of the house except for school functions. Nothing could match how much we cherished the few moments shared with those young fresh lasses before they went running back home like little innocent Cinderellas, before midnight changed them to whipping pumpkins.
Truly, gone may be those days, but the Lone Star banner still floats gracefully since freedom raised her glowing form on Montserrado’s verdant heights (Edwin Barclay).
The Memorable Transition Floating
Whatever the events of the vicissitudes have been, this year 2017 to January 6, 2018 will be a special floating of the Lone Star Banner. As political parties are bellowing their false doctrines and promises to the electorates for votes, the Lone Star Banner will continue to float; as politicians apply their whims and caprices to woo followers, the Lone Star will continue to float. But mind you, there is a cliché in Liberia, “Liberia da technique,” and both sides will apply it. There are some people who will also fool politicians by wearing their T-shirts and attending their rallies just to go vote somebody else when they enter the voting booths on October 10; some will take huge sums of money and go sit in a little village, stuff themselves with food and sour palm wine and return just to lie to politicians that they were campaigning. While all this will be on, the Lone Star Banner will continue to wave, and gracefully too.
Most of all, it will float in transition on January 6, 2017 when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be turning over the mantle of leadership to a brand new president in the first peaceful transition in the history of this Republic. Imagine if the Lone Star were human, how proud she would stand; alas, howbeit, the banner will simply gracefully wave; and wave it will…it will simply gracefully wave as it has never waved before. On that day, former opponents had better doggone hug one another and say, “we made it.” On that memorable day, as the Lone Star Banner waves, people who have not spoken to one another for years, had better embrace and say, “To God be the glory, great thing He has done.” On that day, let lightening strike and thunder grumble, rumble and roll, as the dawn of a real new day would be finally genuinely announced.
The Charge to Keep
Now, fellow compatriots, take heed because we have a charge to keep and a God to glorify by our service to a nation. As we observe the 170th Flag Day on August 24, 2017, let us introspect, and introspect well. Does the Lone Star Banner deserve such lopsided celebrations as have been over the last decades? Will we allow the Lone Star wave over a situation of elections violence and disruption after painstakingly waving over a 14 year civil war and a corrupt government for 12 years? God forbid.
Considering the vicissitudes of our history and the turbulent waves that this flag has braved and gracefully waved, does she not deserve much more befitting recognition? Should we only be concerned with our personal wellbeing and place the banner, the symbol that unites us, on the back burner?
From where I sit, I think it behooves us to rise up, reminisce, ponder, and decipher the message in President Barclay’s patriotic lines which he bequeathed upon us as our unifying voice. Having done so, let us rise up and celebrate the Lone Star Banner the way it should. Let us therefore make it compulsory to celebrate the flag and celebrate it well. So help us God.
Now, may you go forth with a renewed resolve to observe this historic day, not despaired, nor lamenting, but allowing your voices to reverberate from Lofa to Yekepa, from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas, with the verses of the Patriotic Song, The Lone Star Forever.
When freedom raised her glowing form, on Montserrado’s verdant height
She set within the doom of night, midst lowering skies and thunderstorms
The star of liberty
And seizing from the waking mourn, its burnished shield of golden flames
She set within her proud name, and roused a people longed furlong, the Star of Liberty
The Lone Star forever, the Lone Star forever,
O long may it float o’er land and o’er sea
Dessert it, NO NEVER, uphold it forever
O shout for the Lone Star Banner
Having done so, may the Lord bless and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon our country; may He give us the peace that passes all understanding especially that which the compassionate Savior Jesus gives that allays all our fears and calms all our doubts.
HAPPY FLAG DAY FELLOW LIBERIANS, AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!
About the author
The Rivercess Man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson is an Ivy League product trained at Harvard, Yale and UPENN in Education, Mathematics and Physics. After diligently serving the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Government for four years as an Education Consultant and Assistant Education Minister, the Rivercess man returned to private practice as a researcher and advocate. He can be reached at 0886 681 315/0770 206 645 or [email protected] .