Today is the Independence Day of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congo gained her independence on August 15, 1960 from France and Belgium. In Congo, the third largest country in Africa, this day holds a very special place in the hearts of the people. The road to independence has not been easy, but now is a time when there is much hope. There has been unrest in the country for many years; even since their proclamation of independence; but things are beginning to look up. The traumatic past been followed by huge international efforts to rebuild Congo into a state. While that’s a lofty endeavor, it is encouraging to hear about people working with Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration projects, peace talks in the east, and training eager troops to hopefully protect and serve. This holiday is followed later this week by the USA Independence Day, which allows us to reflect on the self-sacrifice, and conviction with which so many have served our country for the good of the future. May the US and Democratic Republic of Congo continue to strive and improve the reality of their visions.
In the words of Congo's first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba: "Victorious fighters for independence, today victorious, I greet you in the name of the Congolese Government. All of you, my friends, who have fought tirelessly at our sides, I ask you to make this June 30, 1960, an illustrious date that you will keep indelibly engraved in your hearts, a date of significance of which you will teach to your children, so that they will make known to their sons and to their grandchildren the glorious history of our fight for liberty. We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force... Together, my brothers, my sisters, we are going to begin a new struggle, a sublime struggle, which will lead our country to peace, prosperity, and greatness. Together, we are going to establish social justice and make sure everyone has just remuneration for his labor. We are going to show the world what the black man can do when he works in freedom, and we are going to make of the Congo the center of the sun's radiance for all of Africa. We are going to keep watch over the lands of our country so that they truly profit her children. We are going to restore ancient laws and make new ones which will be just and noble....We are going to do away with all discrimination of every variety and assure for each and all the position to which human dignity, work, and dedication entitles him. We are going to rule not by the peace of guns and bayonets but by a peace of the heart and the will."