Address by the Most Honourable Andrew Holness
Prime Minister of Jamaica
National Heroes Day Address 2018
Monday, October 15, 2018
THEME: One Love … One Family … One Heritage
Greetings My Jamaican Family …
Today on National Heroes’ Day; we reflect on the National Heritage Week theme for this year; One Love … One Family … One Heritage. It is a fitting theme as we recognize and appreciate the role of the family as the ultimate partnership and the solid foundation on which strong societies are built.
Today we celebrate our heroes, past and present who helped to create the bonds of love and unity among all Jamaicans. Those who have gone beyond self and acted in the interest and well-being of others; often putting their lives on the line and in some cases giving their lives; in order to secure a better life for the Jamaican Family.
Our heroes of the past, Paul Bogle, Nanny of the Maroons, Sam Sharpe, and George William Gordon paid the ultimate price in the struggle for freedom, justice, respect and dignity. Marcus Garvey, Norman Manley and Sir Alexander Bustamante led the struggle for our independence and nationhood. Through their sacrifice, we are a free people, an independent nation striving to secure justice, peace and prosperity for all members of our Jamaican Family and doing our part to advance the welfare of the whole human race.
Today, we not only celebrate those who have paved the way but those who continue to do their best for Jamaica Land We Love in service to their fellow citizens. There are countless heroes from all walks of life and in several sectors of business and industry, the public service, medical services and others who continue to display acts of heroism daily. Jamaicans are extraordinary people and we see constant reminders of our resilience, selflessness and fortitude.
Today, we celebrate Jamaicans like Selena Reid, Grace Allen and Kimani Anderson for their courage and heroism in ensuring the safety of children at the Walkers Place of Safety who were trapped by fire.
We acknowledge the bravery of Sophia Cameron, Verlyn Douse and Camille McIntosh who saved the lives of 22 infants during a fire at the Neonatal Care Unit of the Victoria Jubilee Hospital.
We acknowledge Lloyd Nelson and Jevon Lewis who displayed courage in rescuing five adults and a baby who were trapped inside a building after heavy rains in St. James. They are real examples of ordinary Jamaicans who when confronted with adversity have acted with extraordinary selflessness and courage to save the lives of others.
Likewise, there are Jamaicans whose sworn duty is to put their lives on the line to protect and to serve the Jamaican Family. Today, I want to single out the brave members of our security forces, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force. Some have lost their lives in the line of duty, and many have had close calls, and suffered serious injuries, such as the soldiers carrying out operation in the hills of St. James, or the policeman on duty in Half Way Tree who responded to a robbery and was shot but saved by the grace of God that his phone was in his pocket.
It should not go unnoticed that despite the challenges, and points of disgruntlement over conditions and other terms of service, the security forces have stepped up to the call to rid Jamaica of the criminal element, while upholding the law and protecting the rights of all citizens, even the criminals. The security forces should be commended so far, for their conduct and responsible use of extraordinary emergency powers.
I wish to commend the men and women of the JCF and the JDF for the work they have been doing in general to combat crime and particularly for their work and conduct in the Zones of Special Operations and in the areas declared under States of Public Emergency.
It is unfortunate that for the past several decades, there has been an erosion of public confidence in some elements of our law enforcement institutions. In the extreme some communities have come to perceive our law enforcement personnel as the enemy. This is never a healthy situation and only gives succour and cover to criminals to act as protectors of the citizen and dispensers of justice. Now, the government is determined to change this, we want every citizen to see our soldiers and law enforcement officers as their protectors, as people who have enlisted and sworn to give their lives to the service of the Jamaican Family, to keep them safe and secure. We want our security forces to be the heroes of our people, the role models for our children, and the symbol of trustworthiness, reliability, security and peace. I am seeing signs that this transformation of the image and public perception of our law enforcement institutions is happening right before our eyes. Once the public trust is restored, the fight against crime will be more effective, as there is no greater tool in crime fighting than citizens who cooperate with the police to share information and give up criminals in their communities.
In the same breath, there are citizens who in spite of the prevailing unhelpful social norms are working with the security forces and are providing useful information in the fight against crime. You are heroes in my book. I encourage every citizen to use the specially created channels to share what you know with law enforcement. As our forefathers found wise and effective ways of resisting oppression and brutality which eventually led to our freedom, so it is that today, communities that are held hostage and oppressed by criminals, must wisely play their part to resist and expose the criminal oppressors. It is the right thing to do.
Peace, prosperity and progress is our destiny as a people. However, we will not arrive at our promised destination without taking steps to get there. And we will not reach our destination, if we are all looking at each other afraid to take the first step. This Heroes Day let us resolve as ordinary citizens to be brave and take the steps to our destiny of peace, prosperity and progress.
Happy Heroes Day to my Jamaican Family and may God continue to bless us and give us courage to action our destiny.