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National Heroes Day – more issues

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Fri Mar 20, 2014

The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines seems insistent in pressing ahead with plans to install additional heroes to accompany Paramount Chief Chatoyer Joseph on the exalted platform of national heroes. The committee established for that purpose has submitted its recommendations and a decision is awaited.{{more}}

Around this time last year, there was speculation that this process would have been completed by Heroes Day 2014, but this has not been the case. Whatever the reasons, there is still a lack of national consensus on the matter of who deserves this exalted status and moreso the need for greater public understanding and appreciation of the issues involved. Undoubtedly, in spite of the valiant efforts on the part of those patriots in the forefront of rebuilding national pride, there is much terrain to be covered.

It is a fact that much has been achieved in the past decade and a half where the recognition of Chief Chatoyer, his compatriots and those who have made superlative contributions to our national patrimony is concerned. Yet, some of the submissions and recommendations made for awarding national hero status, formal or in the media, reveal a deficiency in our collective understanding of the issue.

Should we in such circumstances be pressing ahead with more heroes, at the risk of contention and division, or should we patiently pursue the task of education and consensus-building? After all, it is not as though we wish to honour persons still alive before they die… National Hero status is reserved for those already on the ‘other side’. Surely, they can wait another year or two, allowing for greater appreciation of their sterling contributions.

In related matters, Prime Minister Gonsalves has raised the matter of a much larger public event to commemorate National Heroes Day. Thus far we have been holding the solemn wreath-laying ceremony at the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill, the reputed site of Chief Chatoyer’s assassination. The logistics of this venue do not readily lend it as an appropriate site for a mass event.

At the same time, the tremendous public response to activities in Fancy, in Callinago territory, itself logistically challenged, tell us that there is need for a mass mobilization event, not replacing, but complementary to the solemn event at Dorsetshire Hill. We would wholeheartedly support such a venture and take the opportunity to urge organizations of every type to participate wholeheartedly in the effort. In particular, our two political parties must demonstrate that they can mobilize their mass membership for more than just partisan causes.

Finally, we are supportive of any initiative to obtain a proper, prominent memorial for Chief Chatoyer, such as the statue being proposed by the Prime Minister. It is not a novel idea, having been advanced nearly three decades ago by the then New Democratic Party administration. Thus, at least, there should be no political bickering over this. Placing Chatoyer on his deserved pedestal uplifts us all and enhances the task of nation-building.

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