Editorial comment – A special day

People travelled far and wide from within communities in the North to witness the Fiji Day celebrations. Picture LUKE RAWALAI

YOU could sense it in the air.

Yesterday was special.

Thousands of Fijians made it special.

They turned out in blue yesterday, marking an important day in our nation’s history.

It was obvious the day had special meaning for many Fijians. Fijians converged at many beaches around the country for a day out with family and friends.

There was food and drinks galore, and merrymaking. Many attended organised functions and family events on the special holiday. And many more were at work, keeping our nation churning forward.

Fiji Day is rich with tradition and holds many meanings for different people. Yesterday was about celebrating our independence from Great Britain.

It was an opportunity for thousands of Fijians to embrace a great day with purpose.

Forty eight years ago, Fiji cast aside the era of colonialism to embrace a new direction.

We had the reins to govern our nation, and chart a path forward together.

Over the years we have seen, experienced and lived through may episodes.

There were good times, and there were also bad times, and some events that will definitely go down in the annals of our history as life-changers.

We survived many natural disasters over the years. Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 cyclone was the most powerful of them all.

Winston swept through our country in February, 2016, killing people, leaving thousands homeless, and wiping out entire villages.

The impact of Winston’s power and destruction continues to affect many people today.

Lives were changed, some forever. Families were torn apart and villagers left to rue their misfortune, and rebuild their lives.

That was when we witnessed the quick response if our international friends.

They came forward with enthusiasm, hoping to prop us up in our greatest hour of need. We were fortunate to have international support.

Countries such as New Zealand and Australia rushed in aid and personnel to assist us as soon as possible.

Many other nations poured in support and came to our aid. We lived through coups in 1987, 2000 and in 2006.

They changed many people’s lives to a large extent.

We saw media censorship being put in place in 2009 and lifted in 2012, and the return of democratic elections in September 2014 after a lull of a few years.

Then there was the heart-stopping moment when we won our first gold medal at the premier sports event on the planet, at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Ben Ryan and our national 7s rugby team united us as a nation like never before.

As we head back to work today, we should remember we are Fijians.

We live in a multiracial country that is home to more than 850,000 Fijians. Yesterday was special for many reasons.

It allowed us to reflect on our journey as a young nation, starting on October 10, 1970.

As we move forward now, focusing on yet another election year, we should never forget to look back at the years that have gone past.

They provide us an opportunity to reflect, learn, appreciate and set a better future for us all.

We all can make a difference.

Let us embrace unity, appreciate one another, and promote peace and harmony.

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