The Lone Star NOT Forever? Eulogy Written for this very Liberia’s Flag Day
In my thinking thoughts, I realized it would soon be August 24 and the Government and people of Liberia would observe the 171st birthday of the Liberian National Flag, the Lone Star. Concerns that linger among pundits are whether it is the same Liberia that President Daniel Barclay eulogized in the patriotic verses, “The Lone Star Forever?” or another grotesque ugly Liberia? Was he referring to this Lone Star situation where Liberian people are craving and praying against to pass away quickly because of its obscure, peculiar, and unorthodox features? If the answer is yes, then that Lone Star must “NOT” be forever. God forbid, pundits.
By Mwalimu-Koh M. Blonkanjay Jackson, Contributor
For sake of the layman, a eulogy is a tribute to an entity or a person either in time of death or an incredible achievement. In the case of Flag Day 2021, there is a proclivity that pundits might write a melancholic eulogy of lamentations instead of ecstasy and appreciation. Pundits are asking how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? How can we celebrate a Lone Star when hundreds of citizens are languishing in abject poverty under stringent living conditions and moaning in pain? Is it because their hopes and aspirations which Daniel Barclay gave them when he first penned triumphant eulogy, the patriotic Lone Star Forever have been quashed?
Flag Day Back in the Days
You see back in the days, August 24 celebration was an event students craved, as it was one of the opportunities to get away from home after school hours. We also enjoyed the marching bands of the Police, Army, and Coast Guard. Yes, we at Tubman High upon struggling with CWA and Monrovia College for the front of the parade, took to the streets from Centennial Pavilion, up Ashmun Street, down Broad Street, Lynch Street, down to UN Drive to the Barclay Training Center, and later to the Executive Mansion. Due to the population of Tubman High, those of us who were noisemakers took our places in company “J” where we hardly heard band music. We would just stroll, talk nonsense and sometimes behave rudely until the Sergeant-at-Arms came with threats of suspension.
Ah yes! What a color sight there was to behold as the AFL, Coast Guard, Immigration, Fire Brigade, Boys Scouts et al., very smartly attired, marched exuberantly but with dexterity in observing the cadence and rhythm of the bands. During the parades, our immature girlfriends were finally willing to hold our hands and sometimes award us our first adult kisses (tongue-to-tongue) before they went rushing home as baby girls to wash mama’s dishes and scrub pots.
You see, since the knitting and hoisting of the Lone Star banner, there have always been vicissitudes wrought by unpleasant situations starting as far back as the day President E. J. Roye allegedly tried to escape and drowned, to the failed plot to assassinate President Tubman; the bloody 1980 coup when Samuel Doe killed President Tolbert and 13 government officials; when rebel leader Charles Taylor in 1990, unleashed rebels from Nimba who devastated infrastructure and took innocent lives for 14 years, leading to the eventful capturing and live slaughtering of a sitting President Doe by notorious rebel leader turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson. Through it all, the Lone Star banner still floated gracefully over those very Liberias.
The author of the Lone Star Forever patriotic song, President Edwin J. Barclay’s mood at the time was one of ecstasy over the establishment of a brand new country; the dawning of a new day where freed slaves would now enjoy liberty take the mantle of power and rein of authority to chart their own course after slavery days. Hence he penned in his maiden stanza:
“When freedom raised her glowing form on Montserado’s verdant height,
she set within the doom of night midst low’ring skies and thunderstorms,
the star of liberty”
In the refrain, President Barclay reverberated, “The Lone Star Forever” over and over as if prophesying the situation over which the flag floated would be forever serene and decorous. God forbid.
Now, an analysis of this stanza suggests the hoisting of the banner did not happen without challenges. “Lower’ng skies and thunderstorms” could not only literally refer to bad weather, but rather challenges the settlers and aborigines faced before a flag was hoisted. You will note that in many cases when independence is declared, a flag is raised concurrently. But in the case of Liberia, July 26 was Independence Day, and Flag Day followed in August. What a peculiarity!
President Barclay then warned,
“O long may it flow over land, over sea, dessert it no never, uphold it forever,
O shout for the Lone Star banner, All hail”
I do not understand those verses as saying we would physically flee and desert our flag. They imply we should not turn our backs nor lock our consciences from the original ethics, morality, and sincerity with which we first hoisted the darling Lone Star banner, rather we must fight to uphold its pivotal mores, norms, and folkways exemplary of a decent living void of human vices in a united society. Alas, pundits argue this situation remains a utopia, bridled by wishful thinking and hallucinations. A peaceful Liberia? God forbid.
Fellow Liberians, my human agency troubles me when pundits maintain those lines penned by Barclay can never be applied to this other Liberia of 2021 if we do not divest our minds and purge our souls of evil. President Barclay’s Patriotic song cannot be referring to a Liberia where opposition politicians are behaving like greedy, haughty, conceited, overzealous political animals heedless of their vows nor a Liberia where unemployment rate is high; where people die in Liberia’s most populous street while allegedly having sex in a vehicle; where people’s children go to repair machines, get drowned and their bodies are never found; where police reports which raise more questions than answers are acceptable; in a country where highly educated professional young men would get drunk and allegedly fall from their own story buildings and die; in a country where a Bishop accepts a “will and pleasure job” and when he is fired based on the same “will and pleasure” his congregation starts to fight, without remorse. Your give people chance yah!
Pundits doubt if President Barclay’s “Lone Star Forever” was intended for this very Liberia where the Supreme Court sends down more than one opinion or ruling over a single elections case, leaving case law in limbo; where election results take a whole year to get adjudicated; where legislators attend sessions as if it is a casual event and award themselves hundreds of dollars and nobody talks. But when they withdraw their money allotted by law, noise! In a country where hustle and poverty have created a huge homeless population of Zogoes gullible to criminal acts; where a supreme court justice is injudiciously expelled, takes to the international court and finds justice; where a fake Nyanbudike who bamboozled the bar association and our immigration service is still walking around scot-free. This very Liberia can never be the Lone Star forever country which President Edwin Barclay referred to in the patriotic song. Albeit, the banner still floats as its dignity continues to be desecrated by the minute, instead of being “upheld forever”
Fellow Liberians. Fellow Liberians. Fellow Liberians. (I just called you three times). To return to EJ Barclays’ true meaning of the Lone Star banner, we must first divest our minds of mundane cravings, chicaneries, and shady dispositions. As we observe Flag Day August 24, 2021, let us take cognizance that the Lone Star banner deserves more than the situation over which it is floating, graciously yet painfully. We must eschew corrupt behaviors at every stratum of the society, and don transparency and accountability. It is only when we arrive at such a situation that we can sing without equivocation the patriotic song, “The Lone Star forever”, instead of the Lone Star NOT Forever, as pundits have argued.
Now after all said and done, please join me to sing President Edwin Barclay’s patriotic song:
THE LONE STAR FOREVER
When Freedom raised her glowing form, On Montserrado’s verdant height,
She set within the dome of night, Midst lowering skies and thunder-storm,
The star of Liberty!
And seizing from the waking morn, Its burnished shield of golden flame,
She lifted it in her proud name, And roused a nation long forlorn,
To nobler destiny!
The lone star forever! The lone star forever!
O long may it float o’er land and o’er seas
Desert it? No! Never! Uphold it? ay, ever!
O shout for the lone-starred banner, Hurrah!
Simply Thinking Thoughts