Amar Ekushey represents something beyond just the fight for language.
Its spirit lives at the core of the dreams and aspirations of the people of Bangladesh.
Sixty-five years ago, a group of students and activists gathered around the Dhaka University premises to voice their right to speak their own language.
It was a historic movement that eventually gave Bangla the official recognition the people demanded.
Almost half a century later, February 21 was officially proclaimed by UNESCO as the International Mother Language Day.
It is, then, a matter of great regret that our country is still plagued by high rates of illiteracy, both in adults and the youth.
The problem is not an insurmountable one. It is heartening that initiatives like Teach for Bangladesh have been stepping up to help the country on the education and literacy frontier so we may move forward.
It is also important to remember that our country thrives on the diversity of its languages. Bangla may be the official language, but many linguistic minorities exist in our land, and they cannot be ignored.
We must do more to preserve and promote these languages -- the government has taken a few laudable steps in this regard, such as the publication of textbooks in several indigenous languages.
We owe it to the language martyrs to uphold the spirit of Amar Ekushey, by preserving and respecting the sanctity of Bangla, and all other languages spoken in the country, and fostering a culture of learning, acceptance, and harmony.