KINGSTON, Jamaica: A total of 136 outstanding Jamaicans were officially recognized on National Heroes Day, which was celebrated on Monday.
The awards were presented at the National Honours and Awards ceremony in various categories, including the Order of Jamaica, Order of Distinction in the ranks of Commander (CD) and Officer (OD), the Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service; and the Badges of Honour for Meritorious and Long and Faithful Service.
Five Jamaicans received the nation’s fifth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica, for outstanding contribution in the fields of public service, community development, education and diplomacy.
The recipients are the Reverend Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon for service to community development and the care of the poor and disadvantaged; Arnold Foote, for service in advertising, sports and diplomacy; Dr. Marshall Hall, for public service and contribution in the fields of agriculture, industry and education; Professor Emeritus Sylvia Wynter, for service to education, history and culture; Ambassador Sue Cobb, who received an honorary award for service as United States Ambassador to Jamaica and her continuing efforts to promote Jamaica’s interests and support development.
In his message to mark National Heroes Day, Prime Minister Bruce Golding urged citizens to be inspired by “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…the prophetic vision of Marcus Garvey, the strident leadership of Alexander Bustamante and the nation-building efforts of Norman Manley.
“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,” said Golding “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.”
Opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller had a similar message. She said National Heroes’ Day presents an opportunity for Jamaicans to reflect and learn from the experiences of those who have gone before them.
“It reminds us of their courage in the face of tremendous odds and must fortify our resolve to continue the journey to a brighter future,” she said.
“At every stage and in each chapter of our national journey, our ancestors and leaders distinguished themselves as selfless patriots who believed that we were created a proud people with a noble destiny. The lessons that we extract today from their toils and triumphs are the lessons which must undergird our quest for a more just, peaceful, progressive and prosperous society.”
Simpson Miller said she believed there is enough of the qualities and characteristics of the National Heroes in all Jamaicans, and therefore urged them all to “recommit to this island Jamaica, and to our people, that we will do all that we can do to be the best that we can be”.