Speech

My Fellow Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora.  Greetings:

Fifty-one years ago, Jamaicans began celebrating National Heroes Day on the third Monday in October, when we pay tribute to our National Heroes and award medals to deserving Jamaicans.

Each year, as we recall the contribution of past and present heroes, we are inspired by their selflessness and moved to emulate their courage. By their outstanding sacrifices, our heroes have made Jamaica a better place.

We are proud of our rich heritage, our history, culture, entertainment, fashion, religion, sports, fertile soil, and most of all, our people.

Our diverse history has made us unique, and we must strive to protect the legacy that has been bequeathed to us.

This year, 2020, has been quite unusual.  The COVID-19 pandemic that hit our shores in March has changed our way of life.  Much of what we once took for granted is no longer the same.  Many of our large events at King’s House and throughout Jamaica are now virtual, including today’s National Honours and Awards Ceremony.

I must seize this moment to pay tribute to all Jamaicans for your heroic attitude during this COVID-19 pandemic.

We have shown how strong and resilient we can be despite overwhelming challenges that face us daily.

Please join me in congratulating our one hundred and twenty-four (124) recipients of National Honours and Awards 2020 for their stellar contribution to nation-building, their heroism, bravery, and volunteerism. They are examples for others to follow.

As Chancellor of these Orders, I am pleased to confer one (1) Order of Merit, five (5) Orders of Jamaica, twenty-one (31) Orders of Distinction in the rank of Commander, forty (40) Orders of Distinction in the rank of Officer, three (4) Badges of Honour for Gallantry, twenty-five (26) Badges of Honour for Meritorious Service, twenty (20) Badges of Honour for Long and Faithful Service, and four (3) Medals of Honour for Gallantry. This is in addition to the sixty-six members of our uniformed groups.

We should never lose sight of the fact that what we are today will affect our future; therefore, we must always follow the principles that made our Heroes exemplary and legendary.  These principles, if practised, will allow us also to leave “footprints on the sands of time”.

There is more yet to be accomplished as we continue to build our legacy and our country.  Let us truly seek to understand our national heritage and in doing so, honour the words of our first National Hero the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and I quote, “Lose not courage, lose not faith, go forward!”

God bless you and God bless, “Jamaica, land we love”.

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