My Fellow Nationals:
Our journey to nationhood has been a long one – and it began not thirty-two years ago but indeed some four hundred years ago. This journey was, for most of its duration, difficult and tortured. But as though by some divinely ordered master plan, it was precisely the difficulties and the traumas which sparked the powerful impetus for us to fearlessly break from what was, and to begin moving toward what, we knew, could be…….what, we knew,had to be.
As we mark our thirty-second year as an independent nation, then, let us reflect on our struggle for self-actualization which began from the moment the first Africans were brought here to be enslaved and which, even when shape and tactics had to change, never changed focus.
It took great determination for everyday Kittitians and Nevisians to confront the might of the British Empire- and the callousness of others- as theydemanded an end to privileges for the very few, and worked to ensure the introduction of constitutionally enshrined rights for all: Long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, the same spirit and values that caused it to come into being were already aflame in hearts and minds all across our two tiny islands. And so, we remember and honor,today,the many whose courage and humanity placed them in that sacred fold with special homage being paid to national heroes the Right Honorable Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw, C. A. Paul Southwell, and J. N. France, such pivotal figures in our long call for independence from England, and national hero The Honorable Simeon Daniel who played such a key role in the framing of our country’s constitution..
On this special day, I pray that we are keenly aware of the countless ways in which St. Kitts and Nevis have, for so long, been blessed. I cannot remember a time – in my lifetime – in which there was greater tumult and suffering in the world, with both man-made catastrophes as well as acts of nature leaving such despair in their wake. Yet, for so long, we in St. Kitts & Nevis have been the beneficiaries of God’s abundant mercies. May we never take this divine beneficence for granted.May we commit ourselves to striving even harder to make ourselves, in some small way, worthy.And in a world in which democratic values are more important than ever to ensuring the stability that all humans crave, may we forever commit ourselves to upholding the time-honored values on which all democracies depend.
We are now into our fourth decade since the Right Honorable Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds became our country’s first prime minister. And the social, political and economic changes since then have been vast. What has not changed is the importance that our people, like people everywhere, place on stability, community, and intergenerational advancement. Let us be ever mindful that not only is St. Kitts-Nevis ours, but it is, more importantly, ours to build; ours to protect; and ours to enhance for the benefit of future generations. Let us apply ourselves to the task at hand, therefore, giving of our very best, as individuals, in order that St. Kitts-Nevis might be its very best, as a nation.
May God bless St. Kitts-Nevis today and always.