Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020. 7:36 am CST.
By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: “Overcoming Adversity, Creating Opportunity, Belizeans: Unite for Prosperity” – a fitting theme for the celebration of Belize’s 39th Independence anniversary.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect millions of people around the world and in Belize, families continue to be affected by the deadly virus.
With the proven resilience of Belizean people, love, encouragement and unity, it is the hope of all to overcome this adversity and remain stronger than ever.
Today, as Belizeans at home and abroad are commemorating the 39th anniversary of Belize’s Independence from Great Britain, we are reminded of the struggle for Independence.
Belize, formerly British Honduras, obtained its Independence on September 21, 1981.
The struggle to 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.
At the time, two young Belizean lawyers became actively involved in “the internationalization effort.” This was an effort to gain the support of the international community to support Belize in its quest to become an independent nation. The attorneys were Said Musa, former Prime Minister of Belize and Assad Shoman, former Foreign Minister of Belize.
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 21, 1981.
On the night of September 20, 1981, the Union Jack flag was brought down in a historic ceremony and the new Belize flag bearing red, white, blue and a coat of arms in the middle was lifted. 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 26, 1981, Premier Price gave the announcement at the City Center in front of 6,000 people that Belize would celebrate becoming an Independent nation on September 21, 1981.
“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 10, 1981, just eleven days before independence, Price addressed thousands of Belizeans gathered at 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 and all Belizeans waved proudly their new Belizean flag.
As Belize celebrates the thirty ninth anniversary of Independence, we are reminded of the struggle and the importance of our nation’s history.
Belizeans continue the celebrations by 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 39th Independence Day Belize!
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