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No time off on National Heroes Day

That is according to Festivals Minister EP Chet Green who says a highlight of the day will be the unveiling of a mural that is being sculpted by Cuban artists.

“It is 90 per cent complete. The housing for it is the next step. We have agreed with the Cubans and have contracted Cuban services to not only develop a sculpture park but also to train Antiguans and Barbudans,” he reveals.

Greene adds that the government intends, on the grounds of the old Ottos School, to create a sculpture park recognizing the country’s slavery history.

It was October 26th 1937 in Ottos that National Hero Prince Klaas was broken at the wheel for masterminding a rebellion, the plan for which was uncovered before Klaas and his followers could act on them.

Historian Lionel Max Hurst who is also the government’s Chief of Staff says the Cabinet decided on October 26th for national heroes in honour of Prince Klaas.

Hurst says the day is not a public holiday because businesses say yet another public holiday would be too much expense.

“We do have more holidays than many of our CARICOM counterparts. As a consequence, we determined that while we would celebrate the day and make every effort to delve into the history of Antigua and Barbuda, certainly the modern history, we would nevertheless encourage our people to go out and do what the vast majority of us here in Antigua and Barbuda regard as the most (important) function which we play inside of our family life which is to earn an income, so that we can help our families,” he explains.

National Heroes Day has been in limbo since June 2014 when, on coming to power, the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party reverted December 9th to V.C. Bird Day.

The United Progressive Party administration had set aside December 9th for celebration of all the country’s heroes, including Sir V.C. Bird, the father of the nation and whose birthday it was.

Historian Alister Thomas is happy the other five national heroes again have their own day….but he believes that not making it a public holiday diminishes the honour.

“It is also representative of how we treat our country…. There is no serious effort in schools to bring children, students and the nation to recognize the significance of the national hero.

“You do a random survey, and except for those who follow these things, maybe from an intellectual or education point of view, the vast majority are perhaps not aware of it,” says Thomas.

The other Antigua and Barbuda national heroes are cricketing legend, Sir Vivian Richards; former prime minister, Sir Lester Bird; educator, Dame Nellie Robinson; and the country’s second premier, Sir George H. Walter.

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