Editorial comment – Moving forward together

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his entourage greet members of the public at Subrail Park before the Fiji Day parade. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

Whatever your take is on this date, today is a very special one for our nation.
In the greater scheme of things, Fiji Day marks 51 years of our independence from Great Britain.
We are not immune to the problems of the world, and like every nation on the planet, we are afflicted with shortcomings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the very heart of our economy. It has left thousands of Fijians without jobs. It has robbed them of their livelihood, and their ability to put food on their table, for themselves and their loved ones.
Thousands more have been forced to take major pay cuts, and more have been forced to work reduced hours.
To date we have had a massive 653 deaths because of COVID-19. It reflects just how we responded as a nation to the second wave which struck in April.
Far too many people have died in our tiny nation of less than one million people.
This is a shocking state of affairs that must inch out vigilance on our part.
There are positive developments and special factors that differentiate nations of the world.
We remind ourselves there were three significant events that happened in October, 1970.
At sunset on October 9, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time in a moving ceremony at 5.30pm, at a packed Albert Park
in Suva.
The flag was lowered by Regimental Sergeant Major Isoa Vakaciwa and the orderly officer was Captain Isimeli Bainimara.
There was respect and a sense of nostalgia. It was afterall, the end of an era.
The moving ceremony, the sounds of the Last Post, and beating retreat left an indelible impression on the minds of all those in attendance. This old military tradition once marked the moment when troops ceased fighting, withdrew from the battlefield to their camps at sunset. Colours and standards were cased and flags lowered.
This first significant event marked the closure of a chapter for Fiji.
The next day, on October 10, Prince Charles read a message from the Queen and handed over the constitutional instruments that declared our independence.
Then there was the raising of the noble banner blue, our new flag, announcing our independence.
The moment was savoured to the brim. It was a special moment in our history as a young nation. All eyes watched it go up, and emotions rose with it.
There were many reasons to smile, cheer, and be proud.
When you cut out the negatives, Fiji is a lovely nation to live in.
We hope you will consider the impact of this day back in 1970, and the sacrifices made to take that first bold step on the path to independence.
Despite our flaws, we can still try to be a beacon of hope for others.
In the face of the many imaginary demarcation lines that exist in our country, we are still able to cut right through them, casting aside differences in religion, ethnicity and gender.
We have learnt to appreciate that we do share many thoughts.
So let’s continue to put aside our differences and dedicate ourselves to lifting our nation to great heights.
United, we have the power to build a better Fiji together, for ourselves and for our future generations.
We may not be free of negative vibes, but we have shown resilience and evolved over the years.
Over the decades we have also experienced the impact of coups that changed our nation forever.
Our political platform has seen interesting developments over the years, and our election process and systems have taken on significant changes.
We value the role of the media, and today, we embrace its significance in our history.
We must value the freedom to understand and be aware of issues that affect us, and make choices and decisions that are good for us moving forward.
We value our place in society, and the role we can play to move our nation forward.
We value the importance of fair, balanced and credible news with emphasis on integrity.
We have watched our nation develop over more than a century.
Let us celebrate this day and mean what we say when we call ourselves Fijians.
We wish all our readers a happy, safe and memorable Fiji Day wherever you are in the world.

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