I CAN’T help thinking that “Tartan Day” in New York is of more interest to The National than the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, in our own country.

Great to see Sir Billy Connolly at last finding his Scottish roots and leading off the celebrations of Tartan Day. I and a few others found ourselves in Arbroath on Saturday, April 6, which is the day of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, but very few were there to celebrate and mark the occasion with us.

There were the usual faithful enactment group, who for years and without support from ANY political party have kept the faith, and for the few bemused visitors to Arbroath Abbey gave an explanation of why it is so important in our land’s story.

READ MORE: The Big Yin leads Tartan Day parade in New York City

My reason for writing is that The National managed a half page on the event in New York, but apart from the Noticeboard had apparently nothing to say about the event on our doorstop.

Next year, I’m presuming, there will be a big effort to mark the occasion and we won’t be able to move for nationalists celebrating the 700th anniversary. I certainly hope that will be the case, but won’t be able to stop myself from thinking: “Where were you last year – and the years before?”

In the probably inevitable scramble to do something to reflect the importance of the occasion, I wonder if the volunteer “keepers of the flame” in Arbroath will simply be ignored, or bypassed?

In fact, it is doubtful if those same people could be persuaded to do anything different from what they’ve done for years and, incidentally, will still be doing on the actual date next year, which will fall on an inconvenient Monday. I wonder if they will receive any publicity for continuing to mark and celebrate the actual date while the “Johnny come lately” nationalists celebrate the more convenient, previous weekend.

There is something unjust about the whole business of the anniversary being consistently ignored by those who love quoting extracts from the declaration made that day: “For while a hundred of us remain, we will in no way surrender...”

The people who have done the re-enactment for years will probably be swept aside as we make it a nationalist spectacle, and I’d bet they would probably want nothing to do with others appearing and taking over, as they have consistently endeavoured to ensure the event is a national memorial (however small) and not a party political one.

So, next year, if The National can be induced to cover the event, you might find time to speak to the folk who have done the job for years and raised the money for public address systems, costumes and given up their time etc over the years.

It would be even nicer if, in the years following,some of those attending and enjoying the event volunteered to participate and to help for the future celebrations, when instead of being a “special” anniversary it is simply “another” anniversary and we are back to the same faithful group, who have been doing it, unsung, for years.

It has to be said, that the present “players” are now becoming much older and desperately need reinforcing. I understand the group are having a meeting of interested parties on Saturday, April 27 from 10am to noon at the Old and Abbey Church Hall in Arbroath.

Harry Bickerstaff
St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire

IT was good to see a full page spread commemorating the genocide against the Tutsi in Saturday’s National (The horror of the Rwandan genocide, April 6). It runs in stark contrast to the manner in which we turned our eyes away in 1994. If we are to be consistent in our attitudes to race we must go further than tackling racially inappropriate language. We must include a recognition that the old attitude of dismissing African conflict or tragedy as irrelevant to Western nations must be challenged by a proper concern for our brothers and sisters in Africa.

READ MORE: The horror of the Rwandan genocide 25 years on

What was perhaps missing from the article was an appreciation of the extraordinary process of reconciliation that has taken place in Rwanda. I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears multitudes of perpetrators and survivors coming together through repentance, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. It is a process that has gained momentum through government, local authorities, churches and communities working together for a better future for Rwanda. The outcome is a shared identity as Rwandans and an absence of hate speech that is building a united nation intent on a future of peace.

It is also worth mentioning the massive reduction in corruption that makes Rwanda a honey pot for investment, the highest proportion of women in any parliament in the world and huge advances in infrastructure, with electricity connection up from 10% to 51% in less than a decade. It is a country we can learn a lot from, and Scotland’s many connections and relationships with Rwanda continue to build a good partnership for a positive shared future.

Dr Callum Henderson
Carnoustie, Angus