Dhaka, Fri, Apr 2017

Opinion

Victory Day a joyous occasion for all

16 December 2016,Friday, 12:31



SIR FRANK PETERS

Victory Day gladdens my heart. It’s special… there’s no other day like it on the calendar. It is as if magic dust had been sprinkled generously over the nation by Biman airplanes from high above the landscape the night before and transformed the entire nation into a Walt Disney wonderland of fun, festivities and celebrations on a patriotic grand scale.

The celebration of Victory Day has been taking place since 1972, which is also the year I first came to know about Bangladesh from Bengali work friends at Jaguar Cars in Coventry (UK). They, in my books, were among the most honest, compassionate, and decent human beings I’ve ever known. Unfortunately, they’re all dead now.

They knew me through my successful track record of fund raising for different charitable organizations and asked for my help in raising funds for the suffering people in their homeland.

Engineer Ali Sorif Islam, one of the fund-raisers, later wrote a heart-felt report (in The New Age, Dhaka, 2010.11.21) about his fund-raising experience and how it changed his life. Before the fund-raising began, all involved gave their solemn promise to me (with Almighty Allah as a witness), that every single penny raised would be given to needy freedom fighter families in Bangladesh.

A considerable sum was raised and these noble Bengalis not only kept to their word and didn’t filter funds to their families (although relatively poor themselves), but their next move was unexpected and came as a total surprise to me, making me even more in awe and appreciative of them.

To ensure the money they worked tirelessly to raise got into the right hands in Bangladesh; Engineer Ali Sorif Islam paid for an airfare out of his own pocket and distributed the funds in person! It made me very proud to be associated with such compassionate Bengalis. I think of them on Independence Day and Victory Day every year without fail.

It’s thanks to people like Ali Islam that many Bengalis are alive today to celebrate Victory Day.

Victory Day is indeed a day of celebration. It’s a day in which all Bengalis are re-united as one as they once were in 1971. It’s a day for all freedom-loving people of the world to rejoice, to celebrate, and many do.

From daybreak, you can smell a change of atmosphere in the air. Bengalis move lighter in step, walk erect, and cast confident radiant smiles, as fishermen cast fishing nets, upon the ever-changing mobile pedestrian crowd, heart-warming those lucky to be in range.

Victory day (বিজয় দিবস) is written as a national holiday in Bangladesh celebrated on December 16 to commemorate the victory of the Allied forces (India and Bangladesh) over the Pakistani forces in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971… but it’s much more.

After many years of foreign dominance and the innate hunger in their stomachs to become free and independent, their (Bengalis) dream became a reality in 1971 when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation, lead the people to achieve an inconceivable victory. He became the first and foremost hero of the new nation and immortalized himself in the hearts of those living and every newborn in Bangladesh ever since.

While I have always been as neutral as the sun and as political as the wind, here and overseas, I cannot but help admire the transition for the better, I have witnessed over the years of visiting Bangladesh in recent times. On international platforms, Bangladesh has a louder voice than it ever had previously that seeks and commands attention and respect.

Bangladesh still has a long road to travel, but being on the right road and moving at a progressive pace is half the battle won.

It’s well known and documented by award-winning writers and freedom fighters like Musa Sadik that victory and independence came at a high price for Bengalis (and one must remember and honour their Indian brothers) during the horrific brutal and bloody war that saw blood liberally spilt throughout the nation. The blood of heroes helped fertilize the land and cultivate the soil that gave it the fertility we benefit from today in mangoes, jackfruit, and other delicious vitamin-impacted fruits and vegetables. When the names of freedom fighters are long forgotten, their memory will live eternally in the Bangladesh soil that their blood helped fertilize.

It’s not the actual day-long activities of entertainment and cultural programs – parades, parties, fireworks, village fairs, concerts, singing of patriotic songs, the endless singing of the Nation Anthem or the awe-inspiring mind-blowing air displays by the Bangladesh Air Force, that causes my heart to flutter and skip a beat or two and generates an inner warm glow somewhere in my soul, although they help; but the sea of smiling faces to be found on the Bangladesh flag festooned streets as I stroll through the city.

(For some strange reason, foreigners (pity me!) are not permitted entry to the Army, Navy and Air Force displays (bring up the James Bond theme or music from other espionage epics!) despite it being the biggest tourist attraction of the year and an absolute plus… plus… plus for Bangladesh and a must… must... must for Bengalis).

Victory Day in Bangladesh is an absolute joyous occasion for all age groups. If it didn’t already exist, it would be worthy of invention.

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a humanitarian, and foreign friend of Bangladesh. He created a Bangabandhu tribute poster that is seen by many to be the unofficial Proclamation of Bangladesh. Three Bangladeshi babies have been named Frank Peters in his honour for his crackdown on corporal punishment to children.

 

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