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While Trinidad and Tobago became a republic on August 1st, 1976, the event is celebrated on September 24th, which is the date that the first Parliament met under the new republican constitution. On becoming a republic, Trinidad and Tobago now had full control of all its affairs, rowing its own boat with a President, Prime Minister, and a locally elected cabinet at the helm.

Our national watchwords are Discipline, Production, and Tolerance; strong words chosen and carefully woven together to create a hammock sturdy enough to carry even the weakest of us. These words are a call for brotherhood, for a journey of oneness as we navigate our Caribbean lives and livelihoods. 

In 2021, can we say that we live the meaning of these words in our hearts? 

The PSA has always valued the watchwords, because it is cognizant of the fact that these words are supposed to make us productive in our duty to our sweet nation. If every citizen were to act with the watchwords as their guide, we can be a model society. In my observation, straying from these words leads us down a road away from our roots and the very fiber that holds our nation together. The further we move away from our roots, the closer we get to failing as a society. Let us get back to building our nation! Let us get back to the dream of 1976 and positive societal goals. On any given day you can flip through the daily newspapers and find stories of assault, battery, child abuse, domestic abuse, rape, and murder. How is this an example of discipline and tolerance? Many families are on the brink of poverty, especially in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has just been an announcement about the creation of safe zones for the vaccinated, where they can enjoy recreational activities. What about the mental health of the rest of the citizens? It seems like the watchword ‘tolerance’ has been forgotten. Have we been productive in the care of our less fortunate citizens? Are we aspiring and achieving together? Every single one of us? The very definition of a republic is ‘where the supreme power rests in the body of the citizens.’ After 45 years, can we say that we have used our power for the good of all in our society? 

Let us find our way back to the dream where brotherhood, and sisterhood are the order of the day. Let us move ever forward to a nation that truly embodies the watchwords by making it our duty to foster discipline, tolerance, and production. Let us take whatever steps are necessary to create a more equitable society built on our beloved nation’s watchwords.