For those of us born into the post-1971 generation, Generation Bangladesh, we can only look back at 1971 as a mythic time and at the 1971 generation, the one that brought us freedom and liberty, as a generation apart, a generation to whom we owe our entire independent existence.
In the US, the World War II generation is known as the Greatest Generation for their sacrifices in war and peace, and what they did to create the America that we know today. Steadfast on the battle-field and stoic and hard-working back home, they built the edifice of modern day America.
For Bangladeshis, the 1971 generation will always and forever be our Greatest Generation, and those of us fortunate enough to have been born into the peace and potential that they gifted to us have much to live up to.
Nor did their contribution end with the end of the war on December 16. One can argue that the burden of forging a new nation, creating Bangladesh anew from the ashes of nine months of devastation and two centuries of neglect and oppression was no less a task than the war itself.
I was born in 1970 just ten months before the birth of Bangladesh, and the closest I ever came to the glory of those times was my encounter as a baby with the Pakistan army when they came to my house on the morning of March 27 to try to arrest my father.
When I speak to people like my father or others of that generation who were participants and first-hand witnesses to history, it is hard not be moved by the enormity of what this generation of Bangladeshis achieved for the rest of us and awe-inspiring to reflect just how much blood and heroism went into the creation of this nation of ours.
Four and a half decades on, the time has come for the post-1971 generation of Bangladeshis to pick up the torch and continue the nation's long march to greatness. The older generation is fading into the twilight, their job well done. They have bequeathed to us a proud and independent nation, one that can stand on its own two feet and take its place on the global stage, an equal partner with all the nations of the world.
The heavy lifting of nation-building may have been accomplished, but the next phase, our ascent to greatness as a nation, will be no less arduous and no less important. We all have our role to play, and in playing it we will be fitting heirs to the legacy of 1971 we have inherited and will do the memory of our martyrs proud.
On this day 47 years ago, an entire generation of Bangladeshis rose up as one and dared to be free. Now it is our turn. The future is ours. On this March 26, let us reach for the stars, let us dare to dream, let us dare to be great.