Panamanian pride and sovereignty at the City of Knowledge planting of Flags
It is not just any day, it is a day that we wait all year for it to happen. A day in which I wake up feeling even more proudly Panamanian, like all Panamanians and many foreigners in our home who participate in life here at the City of Knowledge campus. It is the traditional planting of Panamanian flags to start the Month of the Country.
It's the heat, the sun, the sweat, the music, the barbecue, the typical dances, the flags, it's everything. Everything that happens around this event reminds me that I am fortunate, that I have the privilege of living and working in a former military base that decided to exchange weapons and soldiers for books and students. For knowledge in a territory that regained its sovereignty not too long ago.
The planting of the flags started 15 years ago as an initiative of our beloved Ben Bravo. He puts it simple: our planting of flags is a testimony of gratitude to all generations of Panamanians who fought to regain our sovereignty throughout the national territory, and reiterates each year our commitment to the task of contributing to create a prosperous, equitable, democratic and sustainable future for Panama.
A testimony of gratitude for a group of Panamanian university students led by Carlos Arellano Lennox -our special guest- and organized by the Union of University Students of Panama, who arranged on May 2, 1958 (60 years ago) to plant 65 Panamanian flags in a peaceful, civic and silent way, at the same time and in different key points of the Panama Canal Zone. Although they were immediately picked up by the Zonian Police, it was a act that demanded the revision of the Panama Canal Treaties and the Panamanian sovereignty in the place, an act that lives forever in our history and in our memory.
The City of Knowledge planting of flags is inspired by this patriotic deed of May 2, 1958, known as Operation Sovereignty. That action that inspired the patriotic march of November 3, 1959, which led to the President of the U.S. Dwight Eisenhower to recognize that both flags should be raised at the Canal Zone, as established by the Chiari-Kennedy Agreement.
The pride I feel when I climb on the stairs, nailing flags with a hammer and sweat on my forehead, is the pride that millions of Panamanians feel to be able to say that we are from this small piece of land that is so big that it almost does not fit in the heart. A heart that pumps out of the shirt as we understand that we are sovereign people who want to keep moving forward, who want to be happy, feel proud, and who want (and can) populate this beautiful place with flags where before it was unthinkable for some, but not for all.
Now in 2018, flags can be admired from the Canal, from the road, from the sidewalk, from the street, from the computer, telephone, television, imagination…, from the heart that beats to the rhythm of the drum and that reminds us every second that this project is ours, that it was born and will live forever in Panama, in our beloved homeland, in our sovereign homeland.