Jakarta (ANTARA) - Young students of state elementary school SDN Pasar Baru 11 made a vibrant sight as they ran on the field during a flag ceremony to commemorate the 77th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence.

Although their smiles were covered by the masks they were wearing, their exuberance managed to shine through.

Red-and-White flags fluttering right and left in the palms of their hands, they then entered the classroom that had been decorated with red and white patterns to enliven the celebration of the Republic's independence.

Tita, one of the female students who was waiting to be picked up, said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been two years since she felt the excitement of Independence Day celebrations at her school.

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This year, due to the improvement in the COVID-19 situation, she could finally celebrate the day with her friends.

In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic had left many people yearning for the festivities of Independence Day.

For two long years, school students joined the independence ceremony in front of the television and saluted the flag shown on the screen. This year, they finally managed to witness the flag-raising in person.

Even as it strives to recover from the pandemic, Indonesia has succeeded in bringing back several activities that were suspended for two years. It seems to be a sign that together with the younger generation, Indonesia is ready to rise stronger.

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Independence Day festivities

According to Vice Principal of SDN Pasar Baru 11, Aris W., 2022 is the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic began that the school has held a series of celebrations to mark Indonesia’s independence.

The students' enthusiasm is reflected in their creativity and passion in decorating the classroom, he added. In addition to the red and white decorations, the students also created handicrafts.

Students who joined the marching band were seen practicing for the march they held on Tuesday (August 16, 2022), one day before the Independence Day anniversary.

Marching band troops led the march that went around the Pasar Baru area, with rows of students wearing professional attire, such as army and police uniforms, doctor’s outfits, as well as traditional clothes from provinces across the country.

With students representing various professions and the country's traditions, the march conveyed the message of synergy and togetherness in Indonesia and echoed the spirit of independence. It was a testament to the value of diversity that is instilled from an early age.

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On Wednesday (August 17), teachers and students of the school held a flag ceremony for the first time since the pandemic broke out.

Although the typical competitions of Independence Day were not held, this year's celebration was really memorable due to the enthusiasm shown by the students, Aris revealed.

Meanwhile, singer Vidi Aldiano, who performed patriotic songs Kebyar-Kebyar and Merah Putih at the Merdeka Palace as part of Independence Day celebrations, remarked that the atmosphere at the palace was very festive.

Maybe because there has been no such celebration for two years that all the invited guests showed up looking their best to watch the flag-hoisting ceremony, Aldiano said.

Concurring with Aldiano's statement, Mersa, a visitor from Depok, said that the atmosphere inside Merdeka Palace was full of excitement.

Mersa was one of the two thousand residents who managed to get a slot to watch the ceremony directly at the palace.

"It was really exciting. I did not expect (the event) to suddenly turn into dangdutan (or campursari, a contemporary Indonesian music genre). I feel really satisfied. There was also a lot of food. There was a goodie bag of food and souvenirs," she said.

Farel Prayoga, a child singer who also performed at the palace, succeeded in making President Joko Widodo laugh and left a deep impression on guests.

The moment when some ministers, senior officials from the Indonesian Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as public figures left their seats to dance with the young singer from Banyuwangi, East Java, will remain a unique memory of the commemoration of the 77th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence.

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Recover faster, rise stronger

President Widodo, in his annual state address on August 16, said that Indonesia has achieved several goals.

For instance, he said, Indonesia ranked in the world's top five nations in terms of COVID-19 vaccination coverage. In addition, the Indonesian economy grew by 5.44 percent in the second quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, in the Pasar Baru area of Jakarta, a mobile fruit trader named Septian revealed that his sales have increased since the community returned to normal activities after the easing of public activities restrictions (PPKM).

However, he could not estimate the exact amount of the increased income. What is clear, he said, is that during the worst phase of the pandemic, he found it difficult to sell his fruits before evening.

Now, with increasing public activities, especially with students returning to school, he is finding it easier to sell fruits.

A feeling of joy has accompanied Indonesia's journey to recovery. The sweet outcome after two years of restrictions has finally begun to be felt by people from all walks of life.

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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