Flagging Up The True Independence Meaning


By Deidre M. Bastian

Lift up your head, to the rising sun Bahama land, March on to glory your bright banner waving high…..…It was a humbling experience as I observed with admiration the little ones at my church with their hands by their sides, while they sang loudly the Bahamas National Anthem. It was moving!!

I smiled proudly and wondered if the children understood the significance behind the words and their devotion. Do they understand that on July 10, 1973, the Bahamas ceased being a British Crown Colony and earned their much-desired independence from British rule?

Most of us would be shocked at how little people know about the significance of this day. If we were to ask a few children, they may say Independence is all about barbecues, firecrackers and eating delicious hot dogs at Clifford Park.

But let’s be truthful: Did you spend July 10 remembering your freedom, or did you actually just hope for good weather and headed to the beach? Well, two days ago we celebrated our Independence Day, the 39th anniversary since 1973. Normally, every July 10 we’d find ourselves reaching deep into our closets to find anything black, gold or aquamarine (or a combination of the three colours) to contribute to the mood.

Nonetheless, this day is either spent barbecuing with family and friends, declaring our love for our country, waving miniature flags or waiting for the night sky to light up with fireworks, right up to the celebrations at Clifford Park, where the Police Band performs eloquently, the various Family Island flags are paraded, and we enjoy an exceptional solo by little Isaria Mackey.

But what does all of this really mean? Do we even know? Webster defines being independent as “not subject to control by others; self-governing; free to pursue your own innate purpose in life; or staying true to personal core values above the influence and the will of others”. Webster is correct, and if history teaches us anything as precious as freedom is, it certainly comes with responsibilities.

Freedom for many of us means the ability to come and go as we please, to speak our mind, to travel and to exist within a certain framework of openness. For others it implies opportunities, or simply to achieve and excel more.

Naturally, it is important to enjoy our freedom festivities with family and friends, but it is as equally important to teach our children about the significance of what Independence Day really means and what the national flag represents.

The flag’s colours are symbolic of our sovereignty. Our Bahamian flag emanated as a result of a local design competition in November 1971, with the Cabinet approving it in 1972. No single entry was chosen, with several combined to produce the Bahamas flag we know today.

Notably, the Bahamian flag has three colours.They are black, which represents the vigour and force of a united Bahamian people and their powerful strength. The triangle pointing towards the body of the flag represents the determination of Bahamians, while gold represents the sun and aquamarine our crystal clear sea and beaches.

We always knew the symbolic colours, but do we know that it takes an announcement from Government House to proclaim an appropriate time to fly the Bahamian flag at half-mast?

Absolutely no disrespect should be shown to the Bahamas flag, meaning that it should never be allowed to drag along the ground. Likewise, a tattered or faded flag should always be removed and replaced with a new one.

Moreover, in the spirit of this Independence week I urge you to remember that we live in an amazing country where doors are still wide open to those who are willing to work hard. Sometimes I still feel we confuse the ‘free’ with the ‘free and easy’. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and even though not everyone succeeds, our country is still worth celebrating and fighting for.

Nonetheless, let’s continue to hoist our national flag, celebrate our Independence Day and sing our National anthem. Most importantly, continue to share in our unique talents and viewpoints, which are special contributions to the Bahamas that nobody else can provide.

I don’t feel that a holiday celebrated one day a year is such a bad idea. So let’s continue to embrace the joy of freedom, and hopefully we’ll be a better people and the Bahamas a better place. So, until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Have fun, enjoy life and stay on top of your game.

NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at deedee2111@hotmail.com

Ms Bastian is a trained graphic designer with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.


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