BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 14, 2020– “Overcoming Adversity, Creating Opportunity. Belizeans: United for Prosperity.” This is the theme chosen for this year’s September celebrations, an appropriate one, considering the scourge of COVID-19 that is plaguing the Jewel and the world at large.
Last Thursday, political leaders departed from COVID-19 “stay at home” norms and converged at the Memorial Park to commemorate the 222nd Anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye. According to some historical records, a battle, which lasted about 7 days, took place on the coast of Belize from September 3, 1798, to September 10, 1798. The records indicate that the British defeated a Spanish armada, and as a result, definitively claimed the land we now call home, Belize.
While some historians and history records give a very different narrative of what many revere as the defining moment in the Belizean narrative, the importance of celebrating the 10th of September as a day to show patriotism and love for the Jewel cannot be understated.
This year, however, the historical battle is juxtaposed with the ongoing battle against the coronavirus that is being waged across the world. His Worship, Mayor Bernard Wagner, called the coronavirus our 21st century enemy in his remarks made at the official ceremonies.
Mayor Wagner said that collective action and discipline are required to defeat this unseen enemy.
“Today, we face another existential threat to our nationhood, an invisible enemy that only manifests itself in deaths, severe illness and infections,” he said.
Mayor Wagner added that Belizean citizens must obey the rules set in place by authorities in order to flatten the curve and reduce infections in the country. He commented, “COVID-19 is our new 21st century enemy. We know one thing, though, just as our forefathers did almost 200 years ago: it can be defeated, yes, it can be defeated.”
“But it will require our collective action and collective discipline as Belizeans,” he said.
Hon. Patrick Faber, chairman of the National Celebration Committee and leader-elect of the UDP, called on Belizeans to unite in the fight against COVID-19. In his speech, he said, “I call on us to see the opportunities that are present in adversity. Belizeans, if our goal is to prosper as a nation, then we will need every man, woman, and child to come forward to make themselves known. Make yourselves known as people of strong resolve.”
Faber also likened the current battle against COVID-19 to the Battle of St. George’s Caye in his speech, and called on Belizeans to support the efforts of the frontline workers and Government.
“Now is not the time to sow division, now is not the time to undermine the authority of institutions, now is not the time to selfishly stoke any form of ethnic, religious, social or political strife. It is a time when we need to come together, to join our hearts, our hands and our minds, to not only defeat the common enemy of the coronavirus but also, the common enemy of crime, the common enemy of poverty, the common enemy of any form of hatred known on our fellow Belizeans,” he remarked.
“It is a time when norms are beings shattered daily; virtues of respect, honesty and love of nation ought not be changing and should not be denied,” Faber said.