As we recall the seminal 7 March 1971 address by the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we need to ask ourselves the question: what have we as a collective body of people done to restore and uphold the principles upon which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman guided us to liberty? Those principles were indeed the values we in this country, as Bengalis, have always held dear. And one very important reason why Bangabandhu is remembered, not just on his birth and death anniversaries or on 7 March but every day of our lives, is that he was one political figure who identified with us and comprehended our aspirations. He was one of us, a man who trekked through the hamlets and villages and towns of this land educating his people on the many ways in which they could preserve their self-esteem.
It is a testimony to the permanent hold Bangabandhu has on our psyche that despite every effort by his detractors and enemies to consign him to the forgotten spaces of history, he remains a vibrant image in everything we do on a social and political scale in Bangladesh. He named the country Bangladesh in 1969, at a time when it was yet the eastern province of Pakistan. It was his courage that reminded us that more than anything else we were Bengalis, inheritors of a great cultural tradition. When he proclaimed in court on a June day in 1968 that anyone who wished to live in Bangladesh would have to speak to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we knew we were on the right path as a nation. That path became smoother when we voted for him and his party spontaneously in December 1970, letting the vested interests in Rawalpindi know that our colossus had arrived. On 7 March 1971, he showed us the path to freedom when he stated emphatically that the struggle was for emancipation and independence. He was shrewd enough not to go for a unilateral declaration of independence but left the onus on the military junta, which would soon preside over one of the worst genocides in modern history.
The rest is history. The nation remembers, and remembers at every single moment of its existence, the difference Bangabandhu made in its collective life. Today it is for us to dedicate ourselves once again to the humanistic ideas of political liberalism and secular democracy Bangabandhu espoused in his long struggle for the attainment of Bengali rights. This morning, our heads our bowed once again before Bangabandhu.
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