The Annual Ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving held on Independence Park this past Sunday (July 9), highlighted the youth of the nation with a lineup of young speakers, each having the opportunity to share what the 44th Anniversary of The Bahamas Independence and this year’s theme, ‘One God, One people, One Bahamas’ meant to them.
The first speaker, Anya Hanna noted, “Towards the rising sun, One God, One people, One Bahamas,’ as I examined this year’s theme, I asked myself what does it mean to be one Bahamas?
“As I began my research, ‘One Bahamas’ was a concept that was started in 1992 by the then Minister of Youth, Algernon Allen. The purpose of this concept was to generate a greater sense of identity, pride and community among Bahamian youth,” explained Hanna.
“As I began to dig deeper into this theme, I reflected on how this theme can relate to today’s society. We often see the senseless crimes being committed by our young men, friendships being torn apart, unbalanced resources and more frequent, the conflict between groups, whether based on social, political, religious or racial distinctions.
“I thought about how privileged we are as Bahamians, to produce our own sense of identify in The Bahamas, and in return the world.
“As a young adult Bahamian, it is my desire to see more young men and women living in The Bahamas, pressing towards the rising sun. Most persons daily functions are based on their environment, personal history, self experiences, whether positive or negative, good or bad eating habits, positive or negative mental and physical abuse, low self esteem, depression and the list goes on.
“I am suggesting tonight that we operate at a larger version of ourselves. I want you to see yourself creating your own identity, fulfilling your dreams, having what you want to have and doing what gives your life meaning.
“I stand here to tell to you that by serving our one and true living God and allowing God to be your source, it is possible to create a deeper sense of identity for yourself. It is possible for you to be all that God has called you to be; it is indeed possible to strive towards the rising sun,” stated Hanna.
Junior Achiever Chelsea Williams shared how this year’s theme became quite clear to her, during the passing of last year’s monster storm, Hurricane Matthew, where unity and overall care and concern for fellow man shone brightly.
“The true meaning of ‘One God, One people, One Bahamas’ became evident last year when the destruction of Hurricane Matthew left an unforgettable mark on our country. As I drove throughout the island I noticed caring people, considerate Bahamians who move readily to help each other.
“As a country, we possess a spirit of unity that proves we are one people. We must all embrace it as we march towards the rising sun,” noted Williams.
“I am convinced that we love our country; it is incumbent upon us to show our Bahamian pride wherever we go. One thing for sure, whatever we do we must always show remembers to put God first. I thank God for our Christian nation and the freedom to worship without fear of persecution. Whether you worship on Sunday or Saturday, whatever your denomination we serve one God.
“My dear brothers and sisters, despite ethnic differences and political persuasions God had mandated that we join hearts in love and unity. When we do this, we will be able to boast and proclaim, ‘Towards the rising sun, One God, One people, One Bahamas.”
Former Junior Achiever and former Junior Minister of Tourism, Gabriel Joseph eloquently expressed the significant strides the country made over the past 44 years.
“This is The Bahamas at 44. Tonight we join as one nation, one people, under one God to reaffirm our common identity as Bahamians and to remember the promise of that first Independence Day. Forty-four years ago, this flag was raised for the first time over an independent nation, swaying to and fro in the wind; the aquamarine, gold and black symbolizing a land moving forward, upward and onward.
“Independence Day is particularly special for me, because of its unifying powers. For all of our divisions and disagreements as a people, this occasion allows us to come under one banner, that of our Bahamaland. Where has 44 years gotten us?” he asked.
“Well today, The Bahamas has one of the largest tourism industries and one of the largest economies in the region.
“This country right here, is one of the most stable, predominately black countries on Earth; these are no small feats. But, these past 44 years have by no means been easy. We have endured economic strife, rising tides of crime and violence and evermore-divisive political divide,” nonetheless Joseph noted, “We are still standing.
“To 44 years of a country invested in its people and a people invested in country. Here is 44 years of a Bahamas of pride; here is to 44 years and 45, 55, 65 and countless years after that.
“Tomorrow our work of nation building and people building resumes, but tonight, let us celebrate; here is to the Commonwealth, at 44,” concluded Joseph.