Jamaica is observing National Heroes Day Monday with the politicians urging citizens to reminisce on the significance of the occasion.
“Now more than ever we need to rediscover the things which bind us together. Our National Heroes, through their fixity of purpose, common vision of liberation and focused determination, summon us to find common cause,” said Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a message to mark the occasion.
He said while to the country’s National Heroes, freedom was the essence of humanity “there are things which constrain our freedom and which, therefore, militate against the work of our Heroes.”
“Crime constrains our freedom. The right to life is the most basic freedom. As a society, we have to deeply embed the concept of the sanctity of life.”
Holness said – “when we take the lives of our own brothers and sisters, essentially taking over from our slave-masters in destroying lives, we are dishonoring our Heroes.”
In her message, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller said National Heroes Day provides an opportunity for Jamaicans to reflect on their strength, great courage and perseverance.
She said the ongoing challenge now is to build a society and an economy that provide for all Jamaicans the necessary social and material benefits.
“These include safety, social protection, high quality education, access to health care, home ownership and decent as well as rewarding work. These achievements will motivate our Jamaican youth, many of whom are frustrated with their circumstances.
Meanwhile, five Jamaicans will be conferred with the nation’s fifth-highest honour — the Order of Jamaica (OJ) on Monday.
They include Ambassador Anthony Johnson for distinguished national service in the public and private sectors, and particularly his contribution to the foreign service; former Member of Parliament and Jamaica Labour Party stalwart Dr Kenneth Baugh for distinguished service to the Jamaican Parliament as well as his work in the field of medicine; Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer for outstanding advocacy for senior citizens; Professor Renn Holness for outstanding work in neurosurgery; and Dr David Wayne Boxer, for distinguished contribution to the National Gallery of Jamaica and the arts.
The OJ is considered the equivalent of a British knighthood, and members of the order are styled “The Honourable”.