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It is fitting for a nation and its people to set aside a special period to honour and recognize those of its citizens who make outstanding and exemplary contribution to its development, and for this reason, I greet Jamaicans, both at home and in the Diaspora, as we observe National Heritage Week 2006.
Undoubtedly, ours is a rich heritage: one that reflects the influences of peoples of diverse cultures, including our ancestors of African descent, and people of Chinese, Indian and German origin, as well as those from countries in Europe and the Far East. All have played an integral role in the unfolding of our colonial and modern history. This mix of cultures reflected in our art form, music and general way of life, truly makes us ‘Out of Many, One People.’
During this week of celebrations and as we reflect on the lives of our seven National Heroes, let us endeavour to ensure that the relevance of their struggle is not lost, especially on our younger generations. It is important that our youth are fully cognizant of not just our history as a nation, but the contribution made by each of our heroes to national development.
At this time, we recognize the thousands of unsung heroes and heroines who remain courageous and determined to achieve their goals and by so doing continue to make a significant contribution to the building of the nation. We see them in every sphere of life, activity and professional endeavour. They include our teachers, members of the security forces, the health services, the clergy, leaders in business, sportsmen and women, as well as community leaders who advocate positive change through meaningful contribution and responsible dialogue. In their own way, they set the standards to help lift up Jamaica at home and bring fame to Jamaica, internationally.
We salute our cultural icons whose work in the theatre movement, as well as through art, music, dance and other forms of cultural expression, symbolizes our rich heritage and helps to establish our Jamaican identify. You continue to keep Jamaica’s flag flying high and promote our culture for others around the world to be inspired by and experience.
As is customary, on National Heroes Day, several Jamaicans will be conferred with various honours and awards for their contribution to the building of our nation. I congratulate them on their achievement and express my special thanks to Jamaicans everywhere who in their own way, continue to work tirelessly for the greater good of Jamaica.
I commend the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission for the activities it has planned for the week of celebrations and I urge all Jamaicans, in particular our youth, to fully participate in these events.
Best wishes for a successful and inspiring National Heritage Week.