Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017. 11:35 am CST.
By Zoila Palma: Today, Belizeans at home and abroad are celebrating the 36th anniversary of Belize’s Independence from Great Britain. This year’s celebrations are being held under the theme: Belize: Confronting Challenges, Celebrating Triumphs, Renewing our resolve!
Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, obtained its Independence on September 21st, 1981.
The struggle for Independence began in 1950 and was led by a group of men including the First Premier/ Prime Minister of Belize, Right Honorable George Cadle Price and Leigh Richardson. The men believed that British Honduras was prepared to manage the affairs of the country on its own.
The movement was referred to by Price as the Peaceful Constructive Belizean Revolution and later included “the internationalization effort” to gain much needed support from the international community in our quest to become an independent nation. For his efforts, George Cadle Price is now considered the ‘Father of the Nation’ by Belizeans from all walks of life, including both major political parties.
Belize remained steadfast in its negotiations with Great Britain and in July 1981, Belize and Great Britain had the final day of talks.
Belize became an independent State with all its territory, with full sovereignty on September 21st, 1981. On the night of September 20th, 1981, the Union Jack flag was officially brought down in a historic ceremony and the new Belize flag bearing red, white, blue and a coat of arms in the middle was raised. For the first time, the Belize National Anthem was sung.
Rudolph Castillo records in his book, ‘George Price Man of the People’, that on July 26th, 1981, Premier Price announced at the City Center in front of 6,000 Belizeans that Belize would celebrate becoming an independent nation on September 21st, 1981.
Castillo wrote, “Ladies rushed unto the platform and kissed their leader. Men hugged him in joy. Soon he was lifted off his feet and showered with love and adoration by those gathered at the City Centre. In one corner people hugged and kissed one another; spontaneous dancing broke out; some just screamed; some broke into hysterical laughter. Some older people transfixed by happiness, sat and just cried their hearts out as joy and happiness excited the crowd at the announcement of the long awaited day. George Price had to be rescued from the unbridled love of a people for their great leader.”
On September 10th, 1981, just eleven days before Independence, Price addressed thousands of Belizeans gathered at the historic Court House Plaza for National Day Celebrations.
He reminded Belizeans that: “31 National Day Celebrations have helped to build the new nation of Belize with all its territory intact and to ensure its Independence.”
After Belize was declared an independent nation, celebrations began with military and uniform parades in all municipalities and all Belizeans, at home and abroad, proudly raised their new Belizean flag.
As Belize celebrates the 36th anniversary of Independence, we are reminded of the struggle and the importance of our nation’s history. Belizeans continue the celebrations lifting up their flags proudly and brandishing the red, white and blue among all schools, streets, villages and towns in this 8867 square miles of land.
Happy 36th Independence Day Belize!
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