Independence Day Message 2017

August 30, 2017

Independence Day Message 2017

On behalf of all of us at the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, I wish to extend best wishes to the national community as we celebrate our 55th

Anniversary of Independence.

That day, 55 years ago, was a significant milestone for us. It marked the severing of the colonial umbilical cord and the commencement of a journey of self-discovery, a journey of growth and transformation. Despite the growing pains that attend every such journey, we have come a long way since then. We have achieved much. We still have a stable democracy; we have built significant institutional strength in our judiciary, our parliament, and in our public and private sectors, and the quality of life for our citizenry has changed considerably since then.

In the developmental history of countries though, 55 years is a relatively short time, and I would be the first to admit that we still have a long way to go. A national anthem, a national flag, and a Coat of Arms are mere symbols of our independence, in and of themselves, they do not make us independent.

True independence comes when we all accept that every right and freedom carries with it an inherent responsibility. The freedom to govern ourselves carries with it a grave responsibility not only for politicians, but for every single citizen. It is a responsibility that is not only exercised once every five years, but everyday of our lives.

It is our responsibility to be a good citizen, to contribute to the country's development in whatever way we can, with whatever resources we possess; to obey the just laws of the land; and to raise our families in such a way that there is great respect for the other, irrespective of gender, class, colour, creed, or political affiliation.

The freedom to govern ourselves and acceptance of that responsibility also carries the caveat that we will make mistakes from time to time. The current economic circumstances in which we find ourselves can be attributed, in part, to mistakes made and opportunities not grasped over many decades.

We are at a juncture at age 55 where we could either continue to beat up on and blame each other, or put our collective shoulders to the wheel and press ahead. We certainly cannot change the past, but together we can shape a new future. All of us, every single citizen, must be prepared to do his or her part, to share in the sacrifices and shoulder the burdens, if we are to make the next 55 our best years yet.

The late soca sensation, Devon Matthews told us, "even though the road is long no matter what comes I know we will make it." Black Stalin told us too "we could make it if we try." Today, as we celebrate our 55th birthday, I am confident that we possess the resilience, the resources and the reason to make it, if we all try a little harder.

Happy Independence Trinidad and Tobago!