Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 16, 2016 (SKNIS)—The dedication and consecration of the grounds to construct the historic National Heroes Park located at the gateway of the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw (RLB) International Airport on National Heroes Day, September 16, 2016, have been hailed as a fitting tribute and home to the Federation’s five national heroes: The Right Excellent Sir Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw (1916-1978); The Right Excellent Sir Caleb Azariah Paul Southwell (1913-1979); The Right Excellent Joseph Nathaniel France (1907-1997); The Right Excellent Sir Simeon Daniel (1934-2012); and The Right Excellent and the Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds (1936 to present).
It was a beautiful sunny morning, marked by pomp and ceremony, with dignitaries, government officials, residents and citizens, and friends and family of the five men honoured at the zenith for their selfless and unwavering service to nation building.
In his keynote address on the very august occasion, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, highlighted what makes for a national hero.
“The wonderful thing about our recognition of national heroes is that this accolade stands outside of and above party politics,” Dr. Harris said. “Today we honour heroes drawn from across all political parties, but importantly we honour them not because of the party to which they belong but because of their contribution to the country. Country therefore is elevated above the political party.”
“On this day we honour individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty to serve our nation. People who have put country above self,” said Prime Minister Harris, whose Government of National Unity is the brainchild of the National Heroes Park.
The prime minister said that National Heroes Day is a day for “retrospection, introspection and prospection,” one in which we take a good look at what really makes a national hero.
“We may say that it is about the quality of a person, their aspiration, perhaps their skills, or experience and character. We may even say that heroes are a product of their environment and time. I think that all of these ingredients count,” he said.
Quoting the first South African President, Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty-seven and a half years in prison on Robben Island, for speaking out against racial injustice in his country, Prime Minister Harris said he is reminded of what he said: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
“And that is the formidable combination that we have been privileged to benefit from in the five heroes whom we gather here today to recognize, celebrate, honour and acclaim—that their life of service, is worthy of emulation,” Dr. Harris, the country’s third prime minister said.
Prime Minister Harris challenged all citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to aspire to become heroes in their own right by contributing to the development of their country.
“The resilience of a nation therefore comes from the character of its people. It comes from the aspiration to do better, to go further, to go faster. It is a restless spirit that never pauses in its mission to do good for our fellow citizens. Ask yourself, are you one such person?” he said.
The prime minister also reiterated the point that heroes represent the entire country and not just in the narrow sense, political parties.
“National heroes cannot be pigeon holed by party political interests because their appeal, their impact must be broad, national and enduring. If we were to subtract their contribution, a gargantuan void would result in the history, life and direction of our country,” he said.
“National heroes belong to the entire country and all the citizens of the country irrespective of their party political affiliations. They are celebrated as a country’s most outstanding and meritorious personalities, whose lifetime contribution to nation building is stellar and incontrovertible in terms of their indelible impact on a country’s history, direction and development. These outstanding personalities stand taller than life. They tower high, dwarfing their fallibility, fragility and failings to be considered super beings among mere mortals who one day would return to dust,” he added.
The National Honours Act (1998) identifies the order of national hero as the highest honour that can be awarded to a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis.