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Leave Chatoyer as our only National Hero


Tue Apr 16, 2013

Editor: It is true that other Caribbean nations have a raft of national heroes, but that does not make it a trend that we must follow. The choice of Chatoyer gave a certain character to what we in SVG mean when we think National Hero. His goal was that SVG should remain independent, and he gave his life to that cause. He lost, and we became a British colony. We who inherited the legacy of Chatoyer, and who were granted independence in 1979, honoured his memory and mission by making him our National Hero, and making the anniversary of his death Heroes Day. Any subsequent heroes will be honoured on that same day. In many ways, he defines the character of future heroes.{{more}}

A number of names have been put forward for this title. To be honest, none of the candidates satisfy me. I particularly dislike the idea of politicians being national heroes.

I propose that we designate some place – a museum, if you like – where we could reflect on our political history, at least since adult suffrage. Pride of place in this museum will naturally be given to chief ministers and prime ministers. We can operate it like Madame Tussaud, where a bust is commissioned the moment a prime minister takes office. To me, this is how we should honour our prime ministers, past and present.

The complement of this is a system of national honours for meritorious service to our nation. Every year at independence, we would present citations and badges of honour to those adjudged to be honoured in that year. I use badges of honour as a generic term; and I doubt Vincentians would be in favour of the Antiguan and Barbadian practice of awarding the knighthood title of Sir to any category of honorees. Our national tendency is always towards egalitarianism.

Once we implement such a system, we would need to reflect on our past and award posthumous honours to a raft of Vincentians. This is where we would recognise the contributions of the likes of George McIntosh, Hugh Mulzac, Earl Kirby and others.

None of these, in my mind, carry the status of national hero, but they made important contributions, and deserve recognition.

Leave Chatoyer as our only National Hero.

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Cedric B Harold