|Lebanon - A real Independence Day for the people|
|Officials are making every effort to assure the country that, for the first time in many years, November 22 will truly feel like a day of independence for all of the Lebanese people.
And for the first time in years the people will get a chance to celebrate and participate in the Independence Day events.
Under the theme of "From Independence to Liberation and Freedom," the tripartite ministerial committee entrusted with marking the national holiday announced on Thursday that next Tuesday will be a day of festivities open to the public.
According to Culture Minister Tarek Mitri, "Independence Day is a day belonging to all Lebanese. It is a day for sharing joy with others without exception, and we hope that this year will be an occasion to rally the Lebanese to express their joy and pride in independence, as well as their partnership and national unity."
Mitri also hoped the event would be an occasion to remember those who sacrificed their lives to ensure Lebanon's survival for all as a free and independent Arab state.
He further revealed that festivities would also include visits to the homes of those who contributed in achieving Lebanon's independence, in addition to several outdoor concerts at the Mar Gerges Cathedral in downtown Beirut and the UNESCO building.
Also on the agenda are theatrical performances and a national unity procession for all Lebanese, but especially sportsmen, scouts, students and artists. The procession will begin at the National Museum and proceed to Martyrs' Square.
Education Minister Khaled Qabbani explained that "independence means freedom, which does not signify isolation from the rest of the world, but dealing with matters under one's control, having the freedom to make one's own decisions, and not laying ones' burdens on others but assuming one's responsibilities."
He added: "Let our decision have a meaning and let it spring from trust in our people and from the trust of others in us, so that we respect ourselves, our country and our people and assume our responsibilities."
Qabbani further insisted national unity and consensus were the two elements necessary to consolidate independence and earn Lebanon respect and trust.
Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Fatfat suggested the country gather in celebration every year and assess the progress made.
"Thus Independence Day would become a popular day, the day of all the Lebanese," he said.
Mitri hailed the scheduled celebrations as the launching of a new tradition, no longer restricted to military parades and official visits, but held to promote the people's participation. "It is a tradition worth pursuing," he said.
"The ceremony under preparation will definitely launch a dynamic in our ministries," he added.
As Beirut is the capital of Lebanon, he explained, the majority of the day's festivities would be concentrated in the area.
Asked about teaching the concept of independence in Lebanon's schools, Qabbani said that on November 21, National Flag Day, both private and public schools would be expected to begin the day by playing the national anthem and discussing the event with students for wider understanding and appreciation.
Beirut,11 21 2005
The Daily Star