The event was held under the patronage of the nation’s newly appointed governor general, Tapley Seaton, in the quaint north western village of St. Paul’s, the birthplace of first National Hero, Robert Bradshaw, who also served as the first premier of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, from 1967 until his death in 1978.
While the ceremony in the past has focused on Bradshaw and highlighting his outstanding contributions in politics and the trade union movement, the new coalition government, led by Dr. Timothy Harris, on Wednesday, announced that new steps are to be taken to create a more comprehensive celebration of those given the highest distinction of National Hero-Robert Bradshaw, Paul Southwell, Joseph N France and Dr. Simeon Daniel, (who was added in 2013).
While addressing the audience at the ceremony Wednesday, Prime Minister Harris announced that as further celebration of national heroes, the government will be designating an area to erect flags and eventually busts of all such honorees.
He said the concept of a National Heroes Park represents a new ethos, and a fresh thinking in the “…treatment of not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but all our National Heroes”.
This new park will become a site that attracts visits from both nationals and tourists, stated Harris, in the presence of fellow Cabinet members, diplomats and opposition members, including Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, who served as prime minister from 1995-(February)2015.
Harris justified the new move by adding that his administration is committed to ensuring that young children “…learn of our local history which would serve to enhance their sense of patriotism, rootedness and direction”. Amongst the young children in the audience were the grand daughters of Bradshaw (from his daughter, the late Isis Bradshaw). They, along with the top government officials, laid wreaths at the statue of their grandfather.
A country, explained Harris, and its people, require its heroes not only to provide exemplars for the society but as a constant reminder of the values, the virtues and the quality of work and vision that made our nation great. “It is right that we honour our heroes who have contributed so meaningfully to our national development”, he stated.
The prime minister also indicated that a competition will be launched to seek public input at home and in the Diaspora to help determine the location of the National Heroes Park. The Permanent Secretary in office of the Prime Minister will be the focal person for all input.
The goal said Harris is to bring honour to the country’s heroes. “Greatness is at times designated on a few, yet every day unsung heroes arise,” opined Harris.
This new park, said Harris, will become a site that attracts both nationals and tourists. No time frame however was attached to the start and or completion of the new project.