The National Orator of this year’s Flag Day Anniversary is Millias Z. Sheriff, a young Liberian who introduced himself as hailing from Grand Cape Mount County, specifically Baaka, Porkpa District and Bandor, Tewor District. He’s Minister Assistant Minister, Technical and Vocational Education Training at the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Speaking on theme, The Lone Star: A symbol of Peace and National Unity,” the youthful orator sermonized the criticality of national cohesion and peace in the country, as the surest way for progress and development. He also made a number of insightful recommendations, as The Analyst reports.
Liberia’s 2021 National Flag Day Anniversary Orator, Mr. Millias Z. Sheriff, has entreated the people of Liberia, both at home and abroad, to cherish and embrace peace and unity as the nation dust off the impact the years of conflict and underdevelopment.
Mr. Sheriff spoke on the topic, “The Lone Star: A Symbol of Peace and National Unity”, indicating that the flag is more than just an emblem or a symbol but goes beyond the identification of what the country represents—the pride and respect for the ideals and purpose for which the nation-state was established.
“It is a symbol of liberty, strength and most importantly ‘unity’ which is our main source of pride and inspiration,” he orator said, indicating that “Liberia is a unique country and our history of projecting Unity and Peace under the auspices of our National banner is replete with instances where we have put aside our individual differences and stood together as one people, one nation and with a common destiny.”
During our civil war particularly in 2003, Mr. Sheriff noted, all sides to the conflict at a very short notice agreed to halt all military hostilities and allowed the National Football team (The Lone Star) honor an international football match against Ethiopia at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium down town Monrovia.
Amidst the threats of insecurities and other negatives, Liberians in their numbers defied all the odds and gathered at the ATS in unity and cheered the Red, White and Blue.
He recalled that prior to the days leading to the match, there were intense exchange of gunfire, mortar rounds and other heavy artilleries and the possibility that the game would have been played was almost nonexistent.
“That is a testament of the power of the unity the flag brings,” he noted, adding that during “our turbulent times, when our country’s history was being subjected to the act of carnage and possible termination of historical existence, there stood a nationalist who was raised by a remarkable grandmother in person of Emma Forky Klon Jlaleh Brown.”
Another account demonstrating peace and unity in times of adversity, the National Orator said, “was recently at the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan when Joseph Fahnbulleh, a son of Grand Cape Mount County and others represented the country and flew the country’s flag. Liberians from all walks of life including politicians, policy makers, students, marketers, celebrated them as a show of support not only based on their performances, but because they flew a flag that is in the heart of every Liberian.
He said Liberia remains the ‘Lonestar’ of Africa, as the country championed and lighted the whole of Africa in the midst of colonial darkness.
The ‘Lonestar’ brightness provided a path for the whole of Africa to have seen and found its way out of imperial leadership from its colonial masters, he said, reflecting on the role the country played in the liberation of many African countries from the bandage of colonialism.
He added: “Our flag isn’t just a symbol of freedom for us but for the whole continent and it signifies the leadership role that we have played. Our leadership as a nation enlightened the whole of Africa that today our sisterly nations can boast of freedom or sovereignty, ‘The Lone Star: A symbol of Peace and National Unity’ transcends our borders.”
Calling of National Re-examination
Mr. Sheriff used the occasion to call for the reexamination of individual and national tendencies so that the country can make progress.
According to him, Liberians need a radical national redemption and transformation to address the historical menace that has challenged national progress and development
This intervention of change for the good must be firmly rooted in the family as the starting point for subsequent national engagement to lend a new face to this Lone Star banner, he said, adding: “We cannot seek to uphold it forever while at the same time seek to degrade it over land, over sea. Oh no, no, let’s continuously uphold it forever.”
He said the National Flag, as a symbol of Peace and National Unity, must imbue into Liberians, a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism that “we do not have to be watched over to do the right thing as a people.”
“Transforming our road side into dumpsite, physically abusing our children and women in disguise of discipline and pocketing what doesn’t belong to us, are all actions that seek to undermine our solemn pledge of allegiance to our flag,” the Assistant Minister of Youth further admonished Liberians.
He said Liberians must never shy away from the national calling to make Liberia that glorious land of liberty by God’s command.
“We are Africa’s oldest independent republic and by that standing, Liberia has been placed in such a unique position of leadership not just in the sub-region, but in all of Africa and beyond,” Mr. Sheriff said. “Regardless of our ethnic or political affiliation, we all have a collective duty to protect our nation state and uphold our national values. No superficial alignment or glorified egotistic parochial standing, is bigger than Liberia. Unless we realize the awe of the challenge of this national responsibility that has been placed upon our shoulders, we will continue to wallow in an air of fantasy and falsehood as a nation.”
He spoke of what he called the ‘crab mentality’ that seeks to pull down and tear us apart, calling on Liberians individually and collectively pull their resources as a herd of people dedicated to confronting the obstacles that have challenged our resolved to advance in all spheres of our national life.
Lamentations of the National Orator
“When we have historically made appointments to public offices to be based on friendship, affiliation and patronage, rather than merit, qualification and experience, there is much to be desired.
“When heads of households fail to make full disclosure of incomes to their spouses, there is much to be desired. When wives cut down on household feeding in favor of clothing and jewelry, while husbands spend more resources on alcohol at entertainment centers at the expense of their children’s education, there is much to be desired.
“When boys and girls behave as men and women overnight, there is still much to be desired. When children become bread winners, risking their lives between running vehicles, while grandmothers sell cold water at traffic intersection, while young men spend quality time playing checkers and at video clubs gambling, there is still much to be desired.
“When social media post are full of hates and bullying, there is still much to be desired. When the National budget which is a law can be contravened, wherein instead of the Executive branch implementing it in its entirety, said function is being shared by the National Legislature, there is still much to be desired.
“When the negligence of those in position of public trust lead to national embarrassment and they are not held accountable, there is still much to be desired. We truly need a national redemption. This is a national political quadrant that needs to be holistically addressed at all levels of our society, requiring a national conversation.”
On this occasion, he noted, “I wish to draw national attention to something that has historically bedeviled our political system. Our failure as a nation to develop a democratic succession plan for national leadership is a quagmire that has haunted us for too long. Since 1944, we did not experience a smooth transition of power from one democratically elected president to another until 2018, when former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf turned over power to President George M. Weah.”
He said Liberia’s problem as a nation has always been power struggle, who sits at the top and call the cards and this has been desecrated with selfishness rather than a realistic vision to transform this country and make it better place for everyone (born or unborn generations).
It’s now hard time, as we project the “The Lone Star: A symbol of Peace and National Unity” that we placed emphasis on a democratic succession plan to enable us maintain the gains that have been made and not to encounter any derailment of our successes. Many thanks to H.E President George M. Weah for his selfless show of leadership as we have witnessed legislative elections where opposition became victorious in places considered the stronghold of the ruling party. This signifies the President unwavering commitment to free, fair and transparent elections and subsequent transitions.
The 174th National Flag Day Orator propounded a number of recommendations for progress, calling for amongst other things for broadening the scope of our national dialogue by investing in national programs that promote peace and unity.
He called for the singing of our national patriotic songs be mandatory at all official programs, and that there should be adherence to hoisting of the flag on all public buildings as a mark of respect.
Mr. Sheriff also recommended the opening of patriotic clubs on schools’ campuses for the purpose of providing a forum for mentoring and teaching the next generation the value of peace, unity, and our Flag and its significance and the need to decentralized official venues and speakers for August 24.
He said the National Anthem, The Lone Star Forever and the Pledge of Allegiance must be transcribed into national vocabularies, making it part of citizens’ daily lives.
He also suggested that there should be a need to have a National Flag Day’s project or dedicate a tourist site or something as a historical reflection of our diversity and unity and that there should be a rigorous enforcement of a compulsory non-movement of people while the flag is being hoisted.