One of our most precious assets as a people is our heritage – the experiences, traditions and culture that have moulded us over the years into who we are and what we are. It includes the struggles that we endured, the triumphs won and the wisdom we gained to confront the challenges of tomorrow.
This past week was observed as National Heritage Week with thanksgiving services, exhibitions, lectures and other events across the island. Today, we celebrate National Heroes Day and focus especially on the role which our seven national heroes and heroine played in our evolution as a nation.
Honouring them must be more than reminiscing and they must be seen as more than just a part of our history. The courage of Nanny of the Maroons, the proud defiance of Sam Sharpe, the tenacity of Paul Bogle and the selfless sacrifice of George William Gordon would have made them heroes in any country in which they were born or lived. So, too, would have the prophetic vision of Marcus Garvey, the strident leadership of Alexander Bustamante and the nation-building efforts of Norman Manley. But they are our heroes and their legacy is our inheritance, a part of our heritage.
We are the custodians of that heritage and we must preserve it for we have a duty to pass it on and to ensure that it is passed on from generation to generation.
There is so much in the spirit that drove them, the courage they displayed, the hope that they ignited that provides a template for us not only for these times but for all times.
Today, we will celebrate in many different ways but in whatever way you choose to celebrate National Heroes Day, I urge each and every one of you to include in your celebrations, a moment of reflection and thanksgiving for the life and works of each or our national heroes. Let us draw from them the inspiration that will cause us to recommit ourselves to the building of our nation, the advancement of our people and the full attainment of the justice, peace and prosperity for which they strived and are to be honoured.
God bless you all.