The nation is set to observe "Historic 7th March", a red-letter day in the country's history, in a befitting manner today.
On this day in 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his speech at a mammoth rally in Racecourse Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) directed freedom-loving Bangalees to wage a decisive struggle against the Pakistani rulers.
In his 19-minute extempore speech from 4:23pm before millions of people of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Bangabandhu unequivocally said, "We shed our blood...we are ready to shed more blood, the people of the country shall be freed, Inshallah!" "Ebarer sangram amader muktir sangram, ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram [The struggle this time is a struggle for emancipation, the struggle this time is a struggle for independence]," the great leader added.
During his deliberations amid thunderous slogans and applause, he also made a fervent appeal to people from all walks of life to prepare for armed struggle against tyranny, exploitation, subjugation and deprivation with whatever they had and turning every house into a fortress.
People were overwhelmed and imbued with the spirit of Bangabandhu's speech.
The whole nation responded spontaneously with a thunderous slogan "Bir Bangalee ostro dhoro, Bangladesh shadhin koro" [Brave Bangalees take up arms, achieve independence for Bangladesh].
The speech changed the course of the country's history, inspiring people to prepare for the Liberation War, which began after the Pakistani military on March 25 launched an attack on unarmed Bangalees and committed genocide for the next nine months.
As soon as the attack began, Bangabandhu proclaimed independence.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave separate messages marking the day.
The president said the speech was a fervent call for freedom.
"I recall with utmost respect the Father of the Nation," he said, adding that the immense courage, strong leadership and right directions of Bangabandhu led the nation into achieving independence.
He said the speech would be an endless source of inspiration for generations.
Sheikh Hasina termed it an unforgettable day in the thousand-year history of Bangalee nation.
Bangabandhu called for the freedom of the country and gave the nation the roadmap for achieving independence, she said, adding that Bangabandhu sensed an inevitable war.
She said the speech was included in the book "We Shall Fight on the Beaches: The Speeches That Inspired History" of Jacob F Field.
Sheikh Hasina urged people to take up a resolution on the day for forging greater unity once again for the development of Bangladesh and making it a prosperous country free from hunger.
"With this spirit, we can make Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed nation in 2041," she said.
Different socio-cultural and political organisations and students' and professional bodies have chalked out elaborate programmes, including laying of wreaths before portraits of Bangabandhu and holding discussions and rallies.
The ruling Awami League (AL) will hoist the national and party flags atop Bangabandhu Bhaban and party offices and place wreaths at Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's portrait on the Bangabandhu Bhaban premises in the capital's Dhanmondi in the morning.
Besides, the AL and its associated bodies will organise rallies in all wards, unions, pourasabhas, upazilas and districts when the speech will be played on loudspeakers.
AL General Secretary and Minister for Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader asked all committees of the party and its associated bodies to observe the day in a befitting manner.
State-run Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television as well as private television channels and radio stations will air special programmes while national dailies will bring out special supplements.