National Heritage week each year provides the nation with an opportunity to reflect on the struggles, achievements and contributions of our National Heroes and Heroine. It is a potent reminder of those who have in many instances made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in championing the cause of freedom, and advocating important rights which many Jamaicans take for granted today.
The theme this year: "Embracing our Heritage – Out of Many One People" focuses our attention at one and the same time on our diversity as well as the common historical threads that connect the social, economic and political past of all the Jamaican people.
The theme is a summons to recall the innate ability of the Jamaican people to unite in spite of the challenges we may confront from time to time.
National Heritage Week 2003 also beckons us to renew our efforts to
safeguard the freedoms and rights won for us by National Heroes and to respect and cherish the modern institutions they have bequeathed to the nation.
The celebrations at this time of year must therefore reflect genuine pride in our cultural and material inheritance and visibly display our ability to live the legacy of social cohesion, peace, love, unity and prosperity for which our heroes and heroines struggled.
Today we continue to excel as a nation and a people because of the outstanding testament of the past. We continue to be guided in the fulfilment of our destiny by the shining examples of courage and commitment of our fore parents.
And when the celebrations have passed, let us continue to focus on the contributions that have helped to shape our own cultural, political and economic development. The spirit of the Jamaican people through the ages has been indomitable and should serve to strengthen our resolve to overcome all challenges.
Out of many, we are one people. Let us together, with the invaluable guide and legacy of our heritage, renew our commitment to improving the lives of our people, inspired by those who dared to dream of a brighter and better future and sacrificed their lives to make it possible for all of us.