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Loyalty, Patriotism and Self-Respect

At the Flag Raising Ceremony organized in San Pedro Town by Hon. Patty Arceo and the Ministry of Human Development, Women & Children, & Civil Society, the Mayor of San Pedro offered the welcome address. In his address I could not help reminiscing of strict loyalty, patriotism and self-respect taught to children in the 1950’s and even in the 40’s as the Mayor explained.

At the ringing of the bell at eight in the morning, the children all lined up by classes around the flagpole, which was right at the doorstep of the primary school. The principal teacher came down the stairs bringing the Union Jack or the British flag with him. Yes, before 1981 when we achieved our independence, the official flag flown all over Belize was the flag of Great Britain. We all pledged allegiance to the Queen of England and to the British flag. The national anthem we sang, the British anthem went in part something like this:

“God save our gracious Queen Long live our noble Queen Send her Victorious God save the Queen.”

After the singing of the national anthem the principal walked down the line of male students inspecting them for clean fingernails, clean pants that had to be just above the knees and a well-combed hair. The girls were inspected for fingernails that could not be painted, dresses down to the knees with a bow at the back, and neatly combed hair as well. Then the two rows of students marched up the stairs and into the classrooms for the commencement of classes. This was done every day of the week. Persons who failed this inspection were taken into a backroom where the principal used a rope called a sash cord, which was used to hoist the flag, and this time used it to dispense two to four whippings on the poor violator.

Another thing, all exercise books had the picture of Queen Elizabeth II on the front cover. Well, you know children, we used to love to idle and paint spectacles around her lovely eyes, or worst yet paint a moustache or beard on her face. Well, if caught, these offenders were kept for recess, at lunch break and even after classes to write the lines: ” I must learn to love and respect the Queen”.

The scouts of Belize City also used to visit San Pedro quite often. They had a lovely display of patriotism and respect for the flag with a bugle and drum ceremony and in uniform every day of their vacation on the island. The flag was raised at six in the morning and brought down with another ceremony at six in the evening. You know it was a well-indoctrinated thing for they were there even when it was raining at six in the morning. Thus we can see the marks of patriotism to the British flag twenty five years ago in Belize and in San Pedro.

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