KINGSTON, Jamaica: A total of 105 Jamaicans were honoured on Monday as the country celebrated National Heroes Day.
The honourees were recognized for the contribution they have made to the nation in the arts, sports, business, agriculture, the public service, education, law, human rights advocacy, community service and as well as for acts of bravery.
“They have followed in the path of our National Heroes. They are heroes in their own right,” said Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who also saluted the nation’s National Heroes, Nanny of the Maroons, Samuel “Daddy” Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, William Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley.
Among the recipients was Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, who was one of nine individuals awarded the Order of Jamaica, the nation’s fourth highest honour.
Referring to a new Charter of Rights for the country, which Parliament began debating last week, Golding said: “It is an important measure to strengthen and guarantee the rights of every Jamaican for which our National Heroes fought so hard and for which some of them sacrificed their lives.
“The fight for freedom may have been won and our rights may have been secured through the toil and sacrifices of those we proclaim as our national heroes but the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and the cause of justice can never end.”
In her message, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson-Miller urged citizens not to forget the Jamaicans today who are also heroes.
She lauded the country’s educators “who, despite less than optimal resources, remain committed to the academic and scholastic development of our nation’s children” and health care professionals, fisher folk, farmers, traders and vendors “who, on a daily basis, set aside their personal concerns to ensure that the best possible care is given to our elderly, our young, our injured and the weak.
“Heroic best describes the service of the men and women of the fire services and the security forces, who are on the frontline protecting the national family from the growing wave of crime and violence which seeks to reverse our progress and hold hostage our dreams.
“Heroes you are, when, despite the challenges that seek to paralyze our society, you are able to set aside your own concerns and help those in need,” said Simpson-Miller.
She also praised the nation’s cultural icons and sportspersons.
“We must embrace the vision of our heroes which is manifested in the life and work of many today,” Simpson-Miller said.