National Heroes Day (Timor-Leste) – December 31, 2022

National Heroes Day, which falls on December 31 each year, gives East Timorese people the opportunity to revisit their short but bloody history that led to their independence. They took part in a violent independence struggle against Indonesia under the leadership of Nicolau Lobato, who was ultimately captured and killed by the invading army. To this day, Lobato is revered as a national hero and is regarded as a symbol of the national resistance against foreign occupation.

History of National Heroes Day (Timor-Leste)

National Heroes Day is a public holiday in East Timor that marks the death anniversary of politician Nicolau Lobato.

National Heroes Day is observed each year in December to pay tribute to Lobato, the first Prime Minister of East Timor. The main reason behind celebrating National Heroes Day is to honor his valor and bravery. The entire nation pays tribute to the sacrifices Lobato made for his homeland. East Timor, which was once a part of Portugal, became an independent state in 1975. Later, it was invaded by Indonesia. Lobato played a key role in making East Timor an independent state.

Lobato was born in Soibada, Portuguese Timor, and fought against the Indonesian occupying military forces. Unfortunately, he was shot in the abdomen and killed by these forces near Mount Mindelo. His body went missing and could not be handed to the East Timor government. To this day, the East Timor government is still in search of the lost body of their first Prime Minister, no one knows what was done with his remains. East Timor’s airport was also renamed after Lobato to honor all the sacrifices he made for his country.

National Heroes Day (Timor-Leste) timeline

1975
East Timor Gains Independence

East Timor separates from Portugal.

1978
The Death of Nicolau Lobato

Lobato is ambushed and killed by the Indonesian military forces.

2002
A New Name

East Timor is renamed Timor-Leste.

2002
East Timor Becomes an Independent State

East Timor gains independence from Indonesia.

National Heroes Day (Timor-Leste) FAQs

Who is the national hero of Timor-Leste?

Nicolau Lobato is considered to be the national hero of Timor-Leste. He fought for its independence when it was invaded by the Indonesian army in 1975.

What countries celebrate National Heroes Day?

National Heroes’ Day is a national public holiday in East Timor and the Philippines.

Why is National Heroes Day celebrated?

National Heroes Day is celebrated to honor the sacrifices made by Lobato to make East Timor an independent state.

How to Observe National Heroes Day

  1. Collect facts about East Timor’s history

    Go to your local library and research more about the country’s history. Post this information online on your social media accounts. Use the hashtag #NationalHeroesDay and share what you’ve learned with your family and friends.

  2. Visit a museum

    Plan to visit a museum focusing on the country’s history. Take some interesting pictures and share them online. If you can't physically visit a museum, then sign up for a virtual museum tour. You can plan a virtual tour with your friends, or colleagues who like to explore interesting histories and cultures.

  3. Read about the Indonesian invasion

    Learn about the events that led to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Make sure to pick those books that are factually accurate. You can either pick a book from your local book store or download an ebook online. If you don't like reading books, then you can even opt for audiobooks and listen to them while traveling or before going to bed.

5 Facts About Timor-Leste That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Hydrocarbon production

    Hydrocarbon production plays a vital role in the country’s economy.

  2. A bilingual country

    People speak Portuguese, English, Indonesian, and Tetum.

  3. Roman Catholicism

    The majority of people in Timor-Leste are Roman Catholics.

  4. A new beginning

    East Timor was renamed Timor-Leste in 2002.

  5. Agricultural production

    Timor-Leste exports corn, sweet potatoes, and coconuts.

Why National Heroes Day is Important

  1. It helps us realize the adverse effects of war and violence

    The loss of lives during wars is irreversible and, therefore, efforts for cooperation between countries with ongoing armed conflicts are crucial to prevent war, along with its adverse social and economic consequences. Whenever the military forces of a country forcefully invade a rival country, financial losses and human suffering cannot be avoided. The best way to prevent such losses is by treating neighboring countries with love and respect.

  2. It highlights the post-traumatic stress caused by war

    Ongoing war and conflicts can affect the emotional health of people. Those who are either directly or indirectly participating in war tend to experience post-traumatic stress and anxiety, which gets triggered by witnessing violence and civilian fatalities during the war.

  3. Children learn about history

    National Heroes Day familiarizes kids and teens with those historic events that took place when East Timor was trying to become an independent state. It teaches the current generation about the sacrifices that the first Prime Minister of East Timor made to free the state from the forced Indonesian invasion.

National Heroes Day (Timor-Leste) dates

YearDateDay
2022December 31Saturday
2023December 31Sunday
2024December 31Tuesday
2025December 31Wednesday
2026December 31Thursday

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