It was 71 years ago, in 1945, when Indonesia victoriously liberated itself from more than 350 years of colonial rule by the Dutch and Japanese. Observed annually on August 17, it's spelled 'Hari Kemerdekaan' in Indonesian, which means 'Day of Freedom', and it signifies one of the most important dates in the history of Indonesia: Independence Day.

Of course, there are many ways to celebrate Indonesia's Independence Day, but on this special day of recognition, we want to take a little moment to reflect on what makes us what we are today. We ask some of our friends who are influential figures, from celebrities, fashion designer, to architect, about why they are proud to be Indonesian.

For Aline Adita, Indonesian presenter and model, living in Indonesia is great, because Indonesia has thousand of islands, uncountable holiday destinations, and with millions of nice people that are friendly, kind-hearted and have a warm personality.

"Despite everything that happens here, you can always find people that will give you their most genuine smile," she said.

Aline said, she is proud of being an Indonesian because Indonesia is the 'Emerald of the Equator', with the world's second-highest level of biodiversity and abundantly rich in natural resources.

"Not only that, Indonesia is the most diverse country in the world, and yet we hold high our 'Bhinneka Tunggal Ika' (Unity in Diversity) ideal as our motto," Aline said.

Julie Estelle, Indonesian actress and model, also thinks that Indonesia is a rich place of diversity in terms of culture, religion, and social backgrounds. "Not only because of its richness in natural resources, I'm proud of Indonesia because of its cultural diversity," Julie said.

Julie thinks that as a nation rich with culture, this should be embraced and not interpreted as the source of conflicts. "I’ve seen some progress in this area," she said.

As we know, in Indonesia, Independence Day is a day filled with festivities and celebrations. For Michelle Worth, Indonesian fashion designer, every 17th of August, she and her family would get together.

"My mother will cook a variety of traditional Indonesian cuisines. I look forward to her oxtail soup, her home-made risolles, and her variety of satays and their sauces. It's a day we get to truly indulge on the flavors of our culture, from the spicy to sweet. After dinner my whole family, including my grandparents, would trade stories and perspectives of our country. Hearing about what Indonesia was like when my grandparents were young is always insightful. It shows how rapid developmental growth has been in the last half century," Michelle said.

Michelle is proud to be an Indonesian, because through all the differences, Indonesians are unified by one language. "This makes me proud to flaunt our Bhinneka Tunggal Ika motto. Our Pancasila is also unique in the world, being that it is not just a set of rules and law, but more a philosophical union of the different beliefs that are present in our country," she said.

In Michelle's opinion, Indonesia is a country that was built on unified diversity, and equality on all beliefs. "I would like to see this only get better through time, as I would like my grandchildren to see the potential greateness of this country, like my grandparents saw it," she said.

Architect Cosmas Gozali also likes to think that despite there reasons for people not being happy about Indonesia, such as corruption and lack of political leaders who genuinely stand for the country, there are still many reasons to love Indonesia.

As the place where we were born, we grew up, our homeland, the language we speak, the food we eat, Cosmas thinks, of course, that we should be proud of Indonesia.

"Indonesia is a country with big opportunities, I have faith in that," he said. That's why Cosmas hopes Indonesia all the best in the future, with good governance system, better education, better infrastructure, and a deeper love for this country.

"More than half of Indonesian population are the younger generation. I'm super-optimistic that from Indonesia will be born new leaders and great inventors that will change the face of the world," Aline said.

Photo credit: Stocksnap