Today, we clock 165 years as a sovereign and independent Republic. We must give glory to God for His compassion, protection and guidance through our turbulent years of challenges. We must also hail the heroism, courage, fortitude and bravery of all of those before us who jealously safeguarded our independence and sovereignty. Bequeathed to us, we are obligated to preserve this prized jewel we call Liberia.
Today, July 26, is a day for sober reflection on our past, our present and our future as a people and a nation. On this day, we recharge our nationalistic commitment and patriotic duty to uphold, defend and protect the State and Constitution against forces from within and without. Not only are we expected to reflect upon and re-examine our patriotic consciousness, we are equally to resolve to renew our pledge of allegiance and broaden our vision to build a united, peaceful, stable and prosperous nation.
This theme of “Reconciliation for Transformation” is in keeping with our renewed determination to go forward as a reconciled and united people.
Since coming into office, we have underscored the need for reconciliation in our policies, actions and utterances, given the polarization that has characterized this country since its founding, and which degenerated into a civil war that devastated the nation and destroyed the fabric of the society. Unless we genuinely reconcile, our determination to move forward will be difficult. Unless we reconcile, our desire to transform Liberia into a peaceful, developed and modernized state will remain a dream.
Last year, the theme of our celebration called for rallying our nation for peace, reconciliation, and development. This year, we re-emphasize reconciliation as the driving force toward a realistic national reconstruction and development plan. In a few months we will launch “Vision 2030” and the “Roadmap to Reconciliation,” both intended to strengthen our commitment to reconcile ourselves and get on with the collective task of nation building.
Liberia has enjoyed uninterrupted peace and stability for nine years because our people desire peace. We thank you, the Liberian people, for your support and cooperation during the first term – the stabilization phase of our journey – and we ask you for the same steadfastness and resolve as we move to the second, transformative phase of our national development agenda.
Our primary task, in post-conflict national reconstruction, has been to set a firm foundation for peace and democracy; to accelerate the process of reconstruction and development; to create an enabling environment for transparency, good governance, rule of law and respect for human and fundamental rights – policies which you, the Liberian people, embraced; policies which have paid off, such as our Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Looking back from whence we came, we can proudly declare that we have made significant achievements. Our success speaks of our ability to do more if we are determined and prepared to do more.
The challenge before us for the next six years is to defend our democratic credentials. We must do this by holding together with a single objective. We must continue to uphold the virtue of respecting and tolerating one another and, above all, hold sacrosanct our resolve to remain democratic, peaceful and progressive.
We celebrate our 165th Independence Anniversary in Montserrado County, where the official celebration began 162 years ago, in 1850. It is here, in Montserrado, that we began our rotational celebration in 2006, which has taken us to Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties. The countywide celebrations provided opportunity for expanding infrastructure, thereby enhancing the national infrastructural development program. Most importantly, these celebrations provided the space for genuine reconciliation, national healing and unity because they brought people together in a festive mood.
The path Liberia has traveled as an independent nation has been tough and challenging. We have survived because we have the will and are determined to defend our independence and sovereignty. We have prevailed because we are a brave, courageous and resilient people. We are bullish about the future because we have hope, and above all because we have abiding faith in Providence, the Almighty God, who has preserved and protected us. For having brought us thus far, we know that He will not leave us.
As we celebrate 165 years as a sovereign nation, let us remember our solemn national obligation to maintain our sovereignty and independence at all cost. Let us renew our pledge of allegiance to the Republic of Liberia. Indeed, let us reconcile our differences and unite as one nation to transform our patrimony to greater, prosperous heights.
Finally, let us remain mindful that no one can do for us what we are unwilling to do for ourselves; let us remain mindful that the fate of our independence and sovereignty, and our prosperity, is in our own hands. We must work together for the good of our country.
May God continue to bless Liberia!
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF
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