I extend warm National Heroes Day greetings to Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora, and welcome the many friends of Jamaica who are visiting with us at this time.
Today, I salute the people of Jamaica, the heroic makers of our proud history.
Today we celebrate our heritage, strengthened by the struggles and achievements of the past, conscious of the challenges and important accomplishments of the present, and hopeful for a brighter future together.
Today we salute the adults andsenior citizens, and hail the Jamaican youth and children, in whose hands rest our future and the great legacy of our amazing heritage.
For generations to come, they must be the guardians of our proud heritage.
Let us reflect on our heritage together…
My fellow Jamaicans,
We have come this far as a nation on the wings of the brave struggles of our ancestors.
We have come this far as a people anchored by our hard work, our creativity and dynamism and strength of our boundless Jamaican spirit.
We have crossed many rivers and there are many more mountains to climb on our journey to progress and prosperity for all.
The Government that I lead, fully understands the struggles of the Jamaican people, and is committed to realising our collective hopes and dreams of peace, social and economic progress for Jamaica.
We walk in the example of our ancestors, who, despite the dictates of colonialism, used their own heroic efforts to improve their lives.
They ensured that the Eighteenth Century was better than the Seventeenth Century, that 1938 was better than 1838, and that 2015 is better than 1915.
That is why we must continue on the progressive path we are embarked on to build Jamaica together.
I hope that, as a people, we will NEVER allow the sacrifices of our ancestors to go in vain.
Let us never allow our circumstances to overshadow the great contributions ofthe Right Excellent Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Norman Washington Manley and Sir Alexander Bustamante.
Individually and collectively,our Heroes and Heroine destabilised the colonial regime and advanced the social, political and economic freedom of Jamaica.
They passed the baton to us; and as a land of world record relay athletes, we surely can, and will, anchor the race to the finish line of economic independence, progress and prosperity for ALL our people.
So, today, lifted by the everyday sacrifices of Jamaicans, we live in this moment, as a great people, a purposeful nation, steadfast in the hope of a better tomorrow.
We are Jamaica– aland and people with a far greater global impact than our size and population suggest.
To be Jamaican is now one of the most powerful identities worldwide.
On this National Heroes Day I salute the guardians of our culture and heritage – our artists, poets, writers, carvers, sculptors, athletes, reggae musicians, dub poets, the brethren and sistren of Rastafari, the scholars, members of the public and private sectors, civil society, churches and political movements, who are all dedicated to building a better Jamaica.
Jamaica is made great by our rich heritage.
We can agree with the Jamaican Poet Basil McFarlane that Our Land is full of echoes.
These are the echoes of our original Taino and Arawak people living their simple, yet productive and happy lives.
Our history echoes too, with arrival of the Europeans who brought the cultures of Spain and England to our shores.
However, by far the loudest and most profound echoes across this land of ours are the echoes of West Africa, and the voices of the Akan, Ashanti and Yoruba people.
In the nineteenth century, we were joined by the cultures and people of India, China, Lebanon, Syria and others as partners in the struggle for Jamaican nationhood, political and economic independence.
Out of this melting pot has emerged the great story of the Jamaican people. It is a story of resilience, defiance, a love of liberty, a pre-occupation with justice and a passion for progress.
Our Jamaican heritage has been impacting the world for centuries.
In today’s global trade in goods and services, Jamaica remains a premium and highly sought after brand. Over the decades too, our leading market position as a destination of choice for tourists, has remained strong.
Earlier this year we celebrated one of our newest national achievements, the inscription of the Blue and John Crow Mountains on the global list of World Heritage sites.
Our standing in the world continues to improve and we are respected by other nations, by world leaders and global institutions, whose faith in our country has been strengthened.
Around the world, and here at home, our successful programme of social and economic progress is being hailed and encouraged.
My fellow Jamaicans,
We all know that Jamaica has for a long time been identified with world class and world leading entertainment as the natural mystic of reggae has held sway in every corner of the globe.
The names of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and so many other Jamaican artistes have been placed on the tongues of successive generations of diverse nationalities.
Today we give God thanks for our resilient, resourceful people including our contemporary musicians, sport men and women, other professionals, creative and literary giants, who command immense respect and accolades worldwide.
Last week, I had the pleasure on behalf of a grateful nation, to host and say thank you to our athletes, who continue to make Jamaica proud on the world stage. We salute them as flag bearers and keepers of our great heritage.
I also congratulate Jamaican writer, Marlon James, who recently won an important global award – the Man Booker Prize for Literature.
I extend congratulations to the many Jamaicans who will be recognised this year with National Honours and Awards for their outstanding contribution to nation-building.
I also commend and recognise in a special way, our many everyday heroes and heroines in communities and families across our nation.
You continue to make sacrifices and give sterling contributions in the interest of your children, your fellow Jamaicans and their country.
I salute you and thank all of you for the heroic efforts that you have made this year to sustain yourselves and your families.I salute each of you for your selflessness and your deep love for our country.
May the efforts of these exemplary Jamaicans motivate others to engage in activities that will result in peace and progress.
National Hero Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante reminds us of the importance allowing peace to reign in our communities across Jamaica.
He said. Quote:
“Without discipline, we cannot succeed; and with disorder we will fail.” End Quote.
I encourage all Jamaicans touse Heritage Week 2015 to reflect on, and again be inspired by, the strength and determination of our National Heroes and Heroine.
My Fellow Jamaicans, We celebrate National Heroes Day 2015 on the 150thanniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion and Massacre; and during the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent.
The Decade invites the international community to honour the memory of the victims of historical tragedies such as slavery and colonialism through reconciliation and healing.
As we honour the memory of those who were killed in the Morant Bay struggle 150 years ago, those who can visit the Memorial Gardens in Morant Bay should do so to honour thoseJamaicans who were brutally killed in 1865.
Let us salute those courageous Jamaicanswho were hanged and shot to death on this day – October 19- 1865. People like:
And many others.
Let us not become distracted from the example of their ultimate sacrifice or be diverted from the path that we too, now walk towards progress.
Let us use diligence, personal development, education, wealth creation and faith in God to lift ourselves to new heights of progress and achievement.
Let us take hope and inspiration from those who have done so.
The evidence is all around us of successful Jamaicans who, while conscious of the past struggles and challenges have gone on to achieve greatness.
Let us proudly take and maintain our place in the world, with our heads lifted high and live as a truly emancipated and independent people.
Let us believe, live and declare the words of National Hero, Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley who said: Quote:
“I affirm of Jamaica that we are a great people.
Out of the past of fire and suffering and neglect, the human spirit has survived – patient and strong, quick to anger, quick to forgive, lusty and vigorous, but with deep reserves of loyalty and love and deep capacity for steadiness under stress and for joy in all things that make life blessed and good.” End Quote.
This is the positive story of the Jamaican people. This is our heritage.
This is the essence of Jamaica, to the world. Jamaica, land we love.