–as giant Golden Arrowhead soars high
By Jasmaine Payne
THE word “patriotism” could barely do to describe the level of pride and joy which filled the hundreds of Guyanese who flocked the Jubilee Stadium for the Republic Day Flag Raising Ceremony yesterday. The ceremony, which was held at 17:00 hrs, was an interesting change to the early- morning affair usually held at the Public Buildings.
This time of day created the perfect setting for all to indulge in the mighty energy which enveloped the crowd during the raising of the gargantuan 50 x 30 foot Golden Arrowhead.
During the five-minute ascension up the 200-foot pole, one could not ignore the feeling of massive pride to be Guyanese at that very moment. As the wind whipped the Golden Arrowhead through the air while it rose to its peak, the crowd cheered and chanted “Go Guyana, Go!”
This feature event, coupled with continued renditions of national songs by the choir and the marching band, comprising of Guyana Defence Force and Guyana Police Force officers at the short ceremony, brought patriotism to an all-time high.
Spirits were so high, that in fact even a scuffle erupted among the hyped-up crowd. Ironically, this occurred during the rendition of ‘Let us cooperate for Guyana’, but clearly they missed that message.
Nevertheless, thanks to speedy police response, the ruckus quickly died down and allowed for the audience to continue in the enjoyment of this symbolic event.
Following the close of the proceedings and the departure of President David Granger — who, along with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had been greeted with excess praise and applause upon arrival — many rushed to the centre of the field to make memories at this now historical location.
Meanwhile, members of the government and other officials expressed the same sentiments that had been clearly articulated by the audience throughout the ceremony.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon was beaming with pride while giving comments about the event. He mentioned that the ceremony was streamed, live, to different parts of the world, and he was sure Guyanese abroad felt just as touched by the event as those here to witness it. “I feel a real sense of joy and satisfaction that this project could come to this point, and it’s going to get better, because, for our Jubilee celebration, things will be even grander.
“So tonight, I want to share with all Guyanese this sense of pride and accomplishment; that we can do things in Guyana with our own effort, and make sure that all our people are happy. I’m seeing lots of happy smiling faces here, and that’s what we want to see,” Harmon said.
He credited the size of the flag alone as being partly responsible for the smiles on people’s faces, and stated that this is a sign of things to come for Guyana.
“When we spoke about ‘a good life for all Guyanese’, these are some of the things that the President envisaged,” Minister Harmon said, adding that President Granger was personally behind this project. “I am very proud of it,” he said. “This is the true spirit of Mashramani: A Celebration after hard work. I can say ‘Happy Mashramani’ to all Guyanese, because we have done it; we have worked together and this is what we have produced.”
Minister of Telecommunications and Tourism, Cathy Hughes echoed Harmon’s sentiments, but added that the event also had much personal significance. “As the flag was going up,” she said, “I had my little cell-phone camera, and I was trying to wipe away a tear; it made me feel so proud. One of the things that added to it, too, was the national songs.
“Valerie Rodway, who wrote a lot of our national songs, is actually my grandmother’s sister; so I was standing here, hearing these songs, and looking at where I am personally in terms of my job in trying to create a new Guyana.
“I looked at the flag going up: It’s bold; it’s beautiful.”
She, however, admitted feeling some disappointment at the absence of the Opposition, as she had hoped that they would look past their political disparities for this particular occasion.
“It’s sad that we can’t transcend some of the differences in the name of Guyana,” she said, adding:
“But, guess what! Those of us who believe in working to change this country, we will go ahead. And we keep inviting people on board; we keep saying that this country is not for any one particular party that happens to be in power. I feel strongly about changing that; we move forward. It’s a good start to make.”
SAVOURING THE MOMENT
Captain Gerry Gouveia, who was also among those who lingered after the ceremony had concluded, was busy capturing every moment of the soaring flag on video. He said his feelings for the event stem from his years in the National Service and the army. “This flag made the hair on your skin stand up. Forty years ago, I was in the National Service and in the army; and this afternoon, being here and experiencing the precision and patriotism, it was a very emotional afternoon,” he said.
Gouveia said the occasion also honours the people who “lived and died” and otherwise sacrificed for the flag, and commended President Granger for taking such an initiative. “This allows us to experience a historic moment like we’ve never seen in the history of Guyana; maybe probably equivalent to the first night in 1966. But this was amazing! The energy and emotion of Guyanese and people like myself who served the flag for many years, it was a very touching afternoon,” he said.
The emotion which the simple, yet historic event evoked in all those who witnessed it, undoubtedly created high expectations for things to come.
Above all things, one could not help but ponder whether the size of the flag itself somehow signifies the greatness of the hope for a brighter future in Guyana,